8 Great Suburbs in the Area
There's more to Charlotte's suburbs than better prices and lower taxes. We enlisted the help of real estate experts to come up with the best 'burbs the area has to offer. Plus find out what your home is worth now.
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Don’t be fooled by Marvin’s horse country setting. Beyond the pastures and wooded drives are some of the best deals in Charlotte real estate. “There are some really big deals to be had in Marvin,” says Crowley. In 2007 the average home price for this tiny suburb just minutes from I-485, Stonecrest, Blakeney, and Ballantyne was a cool $665,500. In 2011 the average sales price dropped to $548,000, an 18 percent decrease. “There were some neighborhoods in Marvin that were significantly overpriced during the boom and a lot of folks couldn’t afford to live in their homes, so there have been a lot of foreclosures and short sales. People can purchase [five-thousand-square-foot homes on two-acre lots] in Marvin that they might not have been able to afford a few years back,” adds Crowley. Combine the sweet deals with Union County taxes, an impressive school system (in this magazine’s annual high schools ranking, Marvin Ridge High School was the top Union County school), and proximity to jobs in south Charlotte, and Marvin’s worth a second look.
Distance from Uptown: Twenty-three miles, or about forty-five minutes during rush hour
Perks: Union County taxes and schools, not to mention a lot more land for your money
Proximity to major highways: Five to ten minutes to 485
Proximity to shopping: Five minutes to Blakeney and Stonecrest, ten minutes to Ballantyne, and the Promenade on Providence
Think you can’t afford to live in a five-bedroom home on a two-acre lot in horse country? Think again. Waxhaw, in low-tax Union County, offers some serious bang for your buck. Plus, its prime location is just beyond the Mecklenburg County border and just off Providence Road, which was recently widened to accommodate the growth down south. For buyers, it gets even better. The housing downturn reduced the average home price by $100,000 since the peak in 2009. Eight award-winning public schools serving Waxhaw have been built within the past six years, and Carolinas Medical Center recently opened a new, state-of-the-art treatment facility. Combine those facts with the family-friendly atmosphere of the quaint shops, restaurants, antique stores, and art galleries in the delightful historic district and you’ve got a winner. “Historic downtown Waxhaw also hosts some great events, including Fourth of July and Christmas parades, along with arts and crafts festivals in spring and fall,” says Cathy Burns, owner of Cathy Burns Real Estate.
Distance from Uptown: Thirty miles, or about one hour during rush hour
Perks: Recreational opportunities abound in Waxhaw. Cane Creek Park features a 350-acre lake for boating, swimming, and fishing. Harvey Clay Nesbit Park contains a diverse array of ball fields, playgrounds, and picnic areas. There’s even a downtown skate park.
Proximity to major highways: Twenty minutes to I-485, twenty-five minutes to I-77
Proximity to major shopping destinations: Ten minutes to Blakeney, twenty minutes to Ballantyne, thirty-five minutes to SouthPark mall
8. Rock Hill
Yes, it’s about thirty miles from uptown—one of the farthest of any of the suburbs on this list. But here’s why it’s worthy: besides the low South Carolina taxes, cost of living, and homes; nearby employment hubs; proximity to I-77; and strong schools (“All of our schools are so strong that the private schools can’t survive,” says Amy Faulkenberry, a Realtor with Allen Tate), Rock Hill also boasts some serious green space. Thirty-one local parks and four rec centers scattered among 400 acres of natural space offer dozens of biking and running trails like the revamped Riverwalk along the Catawba River. “The Parks, Rec and Tourism Department is way ahead of its time,” adds Faulkenberry. “We have parks and sports complexes that serve every corner of the county.” Plus, Rock Hill residents can take advantage of nearby Winthrop University’s cultural scene, which includes theater, dance, and live music, usually at a fraction of the cost of performing arts venues in uptown.
Distance from Uptown: Thirty miles, or about fifty minutes during rush hour
Perks: Property diversity: “You can live on a lake or on thirty acres—there is such a wide range of residences,” says Heather Lamp, a broker with Real Estate Carolina Group.
Proximity to major highways: Five to ten minutes to I-77, twelve to fifteen minutes to I-485
Proximity to shopping: 10 minutes to Galleria Mall, which has national retailers and department stores
What’s Your Home Worth Now?
If there is a lesson from the past few years it’s this: there is economy, there are a lot of positive signs, including employment no quick turnaround for this real estate market. But the and the stock market.” Real estate analyst Karla Knotts agrees. good news is that things are looking better. According to the “The Charlotte residential real estate market continues to be Charlotte Regional Realtors Association’s January 2012 report, Union and York counties saw an increase in average sales prices since January 2011. And though Mecklenburg County as a whole did not realize the same gains, parts of town such as areas 3 (including part of Plaza Midwood), 7 (The Crossings, Berewick), and 9 (University Park, Huntersville) saw an increase in average sales price over the past year. “The market seems to be stabiliz- ing,” says Keith Thompson, a broker with Prudential Carolinas Realty. “We’ve seen in certain areas some bidding wars, which I haven’t seen since 2006 or 2007.”
“All signs point toward positive growth,” says Jim Crowley, a broker with Keller Williams. “When you look at the broad-range North Carolina affected by the fluctuations of consumer confidence. We have job growth and household formation—both drivers of real estate growth—but until the uncertainty is dissipated we will not [find] our ‘new’ normal.” She thinks the idea of waves of foreclosures still to come—which some economists predict—is overblown, at least for Charlotte.
Adds Thompson, “People are still buying and selling. But will it last, and how intense is this return going to be in the market? I don’t know.” To find out if your neighborhood’s making a come- back, check out our exclusive annual real estate chart which was compiled with the help of the Charlotte Regional Realtors Association.