General Area in Charlotte>Question Details

Kbryantjr, Home Buyer in Concord, NC

How long should I rent a place in Charlotte before buying a home to find what areas we like?

Asked by Kbryantjr, Concord, NC Tue Mar 27, 2012

I want to buy a home in the charlotte area, however would think it be logical to rent a place for a while before buying a home to get to know the area better. My question is, how long should we stay at a rental to do this process? Is 6 months long enough? We are moving from Atlanta Ga.

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John Siddons’ answer
6 months is plenty of time to adjust to the area, but most rentals will request a 1 year lease. Contact me directly with info about your move and I'd be happy to personalize my service to help you with your relocation! It doesn't cost you anything to use my services and I'd love to help!

John Siddons
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012
Good morning, KBryantJr.

"Rent until we get to know the area better" seems to make sense for many people. 6 months seems like a good amount of time until you realize that you really need to be looking in 2 or 3 months and under contract to make the closing and be able to move out date on your lease. Then 12 months seems better. But you should also factor in the cost to move twice - especially since in-town moves cost more.

You should also think about the market now and what it might be like in 12 months. Right now, interest rates are at historic lows and home prices are at or very near the bottom. There is a decent supply of bank owned, government owned and other distressed homes on the market that are great bargains. In 12 months, there is a good chance that inventory is not as good, interest rates are higher and your purchasing power is lower.

In Charlotte, proximity to work and the school districts most often drive the housing decision. Even if you wait six or 12 months, your decision will likely still be driven by "find a home that is reasonably close to work in one of the best school attendance zones that we can afford" and "find a home that I can buy below the market because it is bank owned, government owned or other distressed sale". I do not think that satisfying these objectives will be easier or more affordable in the future.

If you find a trusted Realtor to give you guidance and solid information, you should be able to make as good a decision right now as you would in the future. If you buy below the market and decide that you really like something better once you live there a while, you should be able to sell for a tax free profit in 24 months and use that towards a down payment on a different home. There are many people from all over the US and Canada who are who are currently buying real estate in Charlotte and making a solid profit. If you appreciate an answer, please give "thumbs up". For the most helpful answer, please say thanks with a "best answer" click.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012
Many people are looking to rent right now for various reasons and therefore with demand for rentals at an all time high this is forcing the monthly rent charged to higher levels. Most leases are for 12 months so if you are looking for a six month lease you will most likely have to look to the apartment communities. Many times they will charge a little more per month for less than a 12 month lease.

That being said, I do feel that if one knows where they will be working, approximately what they would like to spend, and what kind of commute is acceptable, it is fairly easy to decide where one would like to live. Charlotte is easy to get to know and there are many factors that help to define and narrow down the choices in housing.

I would suggest speaking with a lender to see where your comfort level is for a home purchase and monthly payment; then make a trip to Charlotte, take a tour of the Queen City, and preview homes in various areas in your price range and you may find that the decision is easy to make. Right now prices on most homes are very compelling and interest rates are still very desirable. If you are still unsure at that point, then the agent can also take you to several apartment communties that meet your criteria for availability, location, rent, amenities, and lease terms.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012
I think six months is long enough. You can find apartment complexes that will give you six month rentals. You will pay a little more than if you go a year. Then you have to weigh the cost and decide for your self if it is sufficent to justify.

My wife and I with our children moved here seven years ago. When we did we went into a rental until we got to know the area better and decide where we wanted to live. it was the best descsion we made and felt the time was sufficent for us to find a place and location we were happy in.

Charlotte has so many areas to consider and depending on your needs and wants it can sometimes be daunting. So renting is always a wise move before buying a house if you do not know the area at all.
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012
Forgot to mention that we work with renters as well and can assist you with a short term rental.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012

Great question and good analysis of the area that will meet your needs! Most of the people that I have assisted in relocating to Charlotte metro know the area after 6 months and have a good comfort level buying after 1 year. Of course, a knowledgable realtor can shorten the process for you or negotiate a deal so that you have the option of a deferred purchase.

I live in the Mallard Creek area of the University. One of the reasons that I have continued to live here for so many years is the fantastic access to all of the major highways and recreation venues. With 9 miles of greenway trails, you can jog, bike, or stroll your kids in a relaxed wooded setting. You are right on with the shopping- Concord Mills in 6 min., Northlake Mall in 8 min., Trader's Joe's in 4 min., Harris Teeter in 3min., Ikea in 15 min., Birkdale Village or Center City in 16 min., Southpark in 25 min.- ideal shopping location. And with I-485 finishing in 3 years, we will be able to get everywhere in a reasonable amount of time.

Got to go now, call me or email me with any questions.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012
It depends on how much time you will have to go out and look. If you are working full time, but can devote some evening hours looking online and some weekend hours driving around, 6 months should be sufficient. Most rentals are rented on an annual basis, but a few will make an exception for a shorter term by raising the monthly rent. Also, there are some good options for 'long short-term' rentals, depending on where you elect to rent.

If you would like to discuss places for a temporary stay, and get set up on a website that will give you access to your own personal MLS, please give us a call and we will be happy to share some good insight and expertise about the greater Charlotte/Lake Norman area.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012

Congratulations on deciding to make Charlotte your new place to call home. I believe six months is more than enough time to learn the area. As stated before, if you can find a three month lease it would probably serve you best. Please take some time to consult a Realtor about your transition.

It would serve you best to interview at least three Realtors to make certain they will adequately surpass your purchase needs. There are a number of factors that will affect your decision to purchase and not all of them will be obvious. Make certain you feel comfortable with your Realtor's ability to guide you through the transaction.

Consult with a good mortgage pro as well. I have two mortgage specialist that I work with that can help answer you questions about employment, credit and establishing residency here. They both are seasoned in the business and would do an excellent job for you in the timeline that you establish.

I help buyers throughout Charlotte, but focus on the University area as this is where I live. There are several good places to purchase here so I believe you should start your search right away. I would be honored to interview with you as your broker. Please take the time to call or email me to start your purchase journey.

Chuck Thompson
CR Thompson Realty
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012
When we moved here 14 years ago we rented for 6 months. During that time I drove around and got familiar with areas near where my husband was working. I checked out neighborhoods, schools, shopping etc...Once you get a "feel" for an area you should contact a real estate agent so that they can start sending you available homes for sale in the areas you are interested in and set up appointments for you to view the houses. They can also help you with securing financing so that you can make an offer on a home. I specialize in the Union County and South Charlotte areas. If you need an agent in those areas I would love to speak with you. Best of luck on your relocation plans. At least Atlanta, GA is pretty close to get back to for a visit. We have friends there and love going down for visits.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012
I would rent for a few months and start working with a Realtor right away. They can shorten the process for you, it depends on whether you have children or not. If you have little ones, then finding the schools will be a priority before you move up. If you don't have children, then the proximity to work is important.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 28, 2012
Great question! With the housing sales beginning to rise and the interest rates on the rise, I would suggest that you consider coming to the area and getting a good area tour from an experienced agent who can explain what each are of Charlotte has to offer you, what will fit your lifestyle, and not waiting to buy a home. Should the interest rates go up 1%, you will loose approx. 10% of your buying power! So for a $300,000 home you would be need to look instead for a home at $270,000! Could be a costly mistake.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012
Congratulations on your decison to move to Charlotte! I agree 6 months will be more than reasonable, making a 3 month even more ideal. With this market there is no need to put more money into renting than you need. A good week looking at the various neighborhoods with a realtor will provide plenty of information for you to make an informed decision. If you have any questions please feel free to email me, call, or text. I work with buyers for no cost to them.
Phone- 704-619-3971
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012
I think 6 months is long enough... you might want to try and get a 3 month rental. There are a number of apartment complexes that will do 3 - 6 month rentals. They market is heating up and in some neighborhoods it is tipping toward a Sellers Market. Depending on the price range and where you think you want to live... you may find your self wanting to jump in as prices start to climb.

As far as getting to know the area... if you team up with a good real estate agent they will be able to help you narrow down the field pretty quickly... and then you will be able to spend time in your top contender neighborhoods and see which is the perfect fit.

Check out our neighborhood blog,
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1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012
Good evening!

Congrats on making Charlotte your new home! I agree, 6 months, might be a good time frame so you can learn the area, schools, traffic, etc.

My boyfriend's Parents live in Buford and his Sister lives in Alpharetta so I spend a lot of time in Atlanta. Where in Atlanta are you currently? This might help me get a feel for the area and home/Neighborhood you are coming from. Might help me guide you. Where will you be working?

I would love to help you make this transition a smooth one!


Debra M. Buck
HM Properties
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012
6 months seems reasonable. What part of town do you work? You may want to take that amount of time to study the traffic pattern and research schools, etc.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012
I would be working in Uptown. I was thinking University City area because of the shops, dining, and location to the highways. My job requires travel to surrounding counties, for the reasons to have access to highways. We have two dogs, would want to have a fenced yard for the dogs, and do cook outs. I am unsure whether if I need to establish employment history to obtain a loan for a house purchase. thank you for responding to my question.
Flag Tue Mar 27, 2012
I would wait one year, once you purchased that home, it's a big commitment which you can't just get rid off. I don't think six months is enough time, a year from now will come soon enough and remember haste makes waste. You can spend the next several months researching and feel totally comfortable with your ultimate decision. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 1, 2012
Hi Kbryantjr,

Six months is sufficient, however it really depends on you and your family. If you are able to know where you will be working/ how far you are willing to travel and what lifestyle you want. Do you prefer the lake area, a trendy downtown area, etc.

Your first step should be to go to a good motgage lender and get pre-approval. Pre-approval is different than pre-qualified. Pre-approval is when they have checked all of your information and have approved you for a loan amount. This way you will know how much you have to spend on a home and you will be ready to make an offer when you find that perfect home. It will also help you during the negotiation process.

Second make a list of everything you want in a home. Then divide that into sections of "need" "want" and "have to have". This will help when you begin looking for a home.

Third contract with a Broker that will represent you as a buyer's broker. They will protect your best interest and help you negotiate an offer. They should create a comparable market analysis prior to making an offer on a home so that you know how your offer looks to the seller. Most buyers agents/Brokers do not charge you.

If you would like more information regarding purchasing a home in Charlotte or the surrounding area call us at 704-496-7532.

Desiree Hillard, Broker
Nathaniel Duclos, Broker
"PowerHouse" of activity team
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 1, 2012
See how long it takes to learn the area. It will depend on how much you investigate. I personally give my clients new to Charlotte tours, so that they understand more about the area. I have lived here 25 years. Look me up if you want a crash course in Charlotte.

Sondra Blaser
NC/SC broker
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 29, 2012
I would be working in Uptown. I was thinking University City area because of the shops, dining, and location to the highways. My job requires travel to surrounding counties, for the reasons to have access to highways. We have two dogs, would want to have a fenced yard for the dogs, and do cook outs. I am unsure whether if I need to establish employment history to obtain a loan for a house purchase. thank you for responding to my question.

we currently live in Stone Mountain, GA. We like the area because it is near the city of Atlanta but enough outside of it to give us space from heavy traffic.

Like I mentioned earlier we are looking in the the University City area ... more specific University City North area. We recently came to visit and really like the area but not sure about "setting up shop" there.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 27, 2012
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