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About Charlotte

A fact-filled 4 minute Introduction to Charlotte, the Queen City, a You Tube favorite with over 35,000 views, Introduction to Charlotte NC

The Charlotte economic area is quite large geographically stretching from Statesville and Hickory in the north, to Rock Hill, SC in the south, Albemarle and Monroe in the East and Kings Mountain and Shelby to the west…The MSA in 2008 had 1.7M people, and within 100 miles, 6.9M. Charlotte’s excellent international airport- 8th busiest in the US, is a US Air hub with many direct international flights.
Charlotte’s central location on the East coast, large convergent rail lines, and the intersection of multiple Interstates makes the greater Charlotte area a center for manufacturing, distribution and transportation in the mid-Atlantic.

Charlotte is becoming increasingly a place for international businesses with over 700 foreign companies with offices here, more than 50% of the international firms located in NC.

Recently, Siemens, a major German manufacturer announced it was adding to it’s facility here, investing $135M in a new factory here to make and refurbish steam turbines for nuclear and gas powered plants. Adding 825 jobs here in Charlotte over the next two years, this will be the largest manufacturing facility in Mecklenburg County- also making it the largest plant for Siemens in North America.

Culturally Charlotte raises more money for the Arts than all but one city in the US, regularly finishing 2nd to New York City. 2009 saw the opening of the Knight Theater and the Harvey Gant African-American Museum, the Bechtler Art Museum opened with great fan fare January 1, 2010, and a the new Mint Museum of Craft and Design opens later this year. The NC Music Factory made its debut last fall and will bring even more concerts to Uptown Charlotte.

For kids take the train in and visit ImaginOn and Discovery Place, plus the many festivals and parades in town. Make time to visit the Levine Museum of the New South for a hands on tour of the city’s past, exploring Charlotte’s place in the civil rights movement and its leadership role today in the New South.

The Blumenthall is the place to be when Broadway comes to Charlotte, or to hear the Charlotte Symphony.

If you are an outdoor family, you’ll like the many day trips in and around Charlotte. Hike on Crowders Mountain, swim and fish at Cane Creek, take a day rafting at the fantastic National White Water Center (home of the US Kayak Olympic team) or, if you have just an afternoon take your roller blades/strollers/ dog and head to Freedom Park in Dilworth.

If you have the weekend, take to the mountains- Asheville in 3 hours, the Blue Ridge in 2 hours, or head to your favorite beach or restaurant in Charleston, a short 3 hours away.

And if boating is your thing… take your pick of local lakes: Norman, Wylie, Mt Island, and a bit further Waterree and Hickory.

The new river walk along Sugar Creek in uptown Charlotte opens in 2010, can’t wait.

The Reasons Businesses and Relocating Families like Charlotte

  • Cost of living below the national average
  • City, County and State AAA bond ratings
  • Average of 644 airline flights daily
  • 12.165 new jobs for 2008, over 15,000 created in 2009
  • 1st most educated workforce1st America’s most livable communities
  • 1st top large counties for business recruitment
  • 1st top state business climate
  • 1st top market for apartment owners
  • 2nd economic strength ranking
  • 2nd largest banking center (controls over $2 trillion in assets)
  • 2nd best city for entrepreneurs
  • 4th best city for relocating singles
  • 5th best city for business
  • 6th in number of Fortune 5for prof00 headquarters
  • 10th most active airport in the U.S.
  • 20th largest city
  • BET has ranked Charlotte Best City for black familes
  • Best Walking City in 2007
  • Best City For the visually impaired according to annual rankings of the Amercian
  • Federation for the Blind
  • center of the 6th largest economic mega-city in the US

The list above borrows heavily from our excellent Chamber of Commerce.

Frequently Asked Questions About Charlotte, NC

Charlotte- a City of ImportsQUESTION- How “Southern “is Charlotte? Charlotte has not lost its Southern roots, but culturally it is very Northern, people come from all over the country to live and work here. I sometimes call it the last northern city- but that’s unfair, Charlotte is much cleaner, more accessible, prettier, and quieter than every northern city I’ve lived in or visited.

QUESTION: How has Charlotte fared in the recession? Better than many, not as good as some… The recession started late in Charlotte- home prices rose through the summer of 2008, unemployment remained low until the 4th quarter of 2008, when Wall Street’s financial meltdown reached down and touched Charlotte.

Unemployment soared 4th Q… interestingly not the financial sector (the Wachovia headquarters loss), but the loss was felt first in manufacturing sector and has spilled across across the county to other industries as it did across the country. Unemployment remains above 10%, but many outlying counties unemployment is in the mid to upper teens. Economists believe Charlotte’s last-in, will lead to a first-out of the recession. Charlotte never did lose large numbers of Wachovia jobs, and our economy still is creating new jobs- over 15,000 jobs were created in Charlotte in 2009, 25% ahead of the 2008 pace. Net- we lost jobs.

Charlotte’s Economic Future? Energy and Finance

QUESTION: Why is Charlotte called the Queen City? Charlotte, NC is named after the German Queen Charlotte, who lived in the German state of Mecklenburg. She was married to British King George III.

QUESTION: Define the Greater Charlotte Area, not the economic unit: The greater Charlotte area extends from the top of Lake Norman to the South Carolina side of Lake Wylie, As well as the nearby Union County towns of Weddington, Waxhaw, Marvin; to the northeast is Cabbarrus County, home of Concord, Kannapolis, Harrisburg. To the east, the “Charlotte area” extends to Albemarle in Stanley county, and to the West, to Gastonia and Kings Mountain in Gaston County.

South Carolina is no more than 10 miles from Uptown: Nearby Ft Mill is a popular suburb, just 17 miles from the Bank of America tower. See and area Charlotte map and Homes for Sale here.

QUESTION:Hows the real estate market in 2009?Definitely slow, and a strong buyers market. But prices increased here all of 2007, and the first half of 2008. we never had the “bubble” run up in prices, so we haven’t had the big fall, though prices did begin to decline in August of 2008. Still, we are always in the top handful of cities in the monthly Case-Shiller reports of home prices. See the next video update for a bit more on the market

QUESTION: How many people live in the greater Charlotte area? The Charlotte Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has 1.7 Million people. Greater Metro area? 2.5M. Within 100 miles? 6.9 Million. Charlotte is the 20th largest city in the US.

QUESTION: Charlotte has grown dramatically the last 10 years, Why?I think there are four large reasons, and many smaller ones. Our economy has produced good jobs in a growing economy, far outpacing the national averages in job growth. The low cost of housing and low property taxes have lured many families from the northeast. Our slower lifestyle and values have led many families to conclude that Charlotte is a great place to raise a family. Great weather. We have four seasons, but a short winter, and long spring and fall, and a summer no different than my childhood summers in Washington DC.

Many have told me that we have “Big City” amenities, without the big city problems!

QUESTION: How much has Charlotte grown? Since 2000, we have added 395,000 people- a little more than the whole city of Raleigh, or Minneapolis. That’s right, like the whole city moved here!

QUESTION: North Carolina has been known as a popular retirement state because of its low cost of living, is Charlotte a big retirement area? No, it is not. We are a growing retirement area, but currently there is exactly one “over 55, Active Adult” Community in the greater Charlotte area. It is the very popular Sun City Carolina lakes- but more are on the way. Actually, as cities go, we are a “young” city. I’m looking for the demographics, but as I recall our median household age is about 8 years younger than northeastern cities of Boston or New York.

So, you think you may be moving to Charlotte, where might you want to live??? The $64 Million dollar question… here is another video to help you get started.

QUESTION: Are there public golf courses and do people play all year? Yes- a great selection, and absolutely golfers can golf 12 months a year.

Charlotte Real Estate FAQ’s

QUESTION: How are home prices in Charlotte? The short answer is much better than most, but it is a strong buyers market. Prices are rolled back to 2005 levels, in some places further. If you are taking a hit selling your home (wherever you are) know that you’ll be buying here at a discount which will offset atleast some of that. See my 2009 video, How is the Charlotte market? Also- short sales are where the deals are today!

QUESTION: Is there mortgage money there for people with average credit? Yes. And great rates. With credit scores from the mid 600’s, steady employment and a downpayment, loans are flowing. Appraisals are working as well as sellers are (mostly) priced real world. We are not having the appraisal issues found in Florida, Arizoan etc.

QUESTION: Is there “stated income” loans for self employed? No, income verified with tax returns will be required.

QUESTION: What are the normal deposit requirements? 1% of purchase price is typical on re-sale, new home builders vary based on home price

QUESTION: How long does it take to close on a home? Typical closings are set for 30-45 days from acceptance, you don’t lose a negotiating point before 60 days

QUESTION: Are there discounts/better prices for cash? You bet- In this lending environment, the VERY strongest offer is a Cash offer with a 15 day closing.

QUESTION: How does “Buyer Agency” work and who pays for it? Buyer Agency is a relatively new concept, its been around since the mid-1990’s and it allows Brokers/Agents like us to represent Buyer’s with out responsibilities (other than truthfulness) to the Sellers. Commissions are divided between the Selling Agent (Listing Agent) and the Buyer Agent, and both Agents are paid from the Seller proceeds at closing. Buyer Agency creates a fiduciary relationship between Buyer Broker and Client, and compels the Buyer Agent to Always act in the best interest of the Client. This is a short answer to a longer question, and North Carolina provides a brochure called Working with Agents that answers to all Agency related questions. Agency discussion and the brochure are provided at first substantial contact between Broker and Client.

QUESTION: Do I Need a Buyer Agent? Legally no, but a good Buyer Agent will have, or research, the information needed to obtain the best price on a property. I wrote a very well received blog post years ago titled, Why You Always Need A Buyer Agent the conclusion being you always need a good Buyer Agent, but No agent is better than a bad one!

QUESTION: Can an Agent represent the Seller and the Buyer at the same time, like I am used to?Legally yes. But can they really? I could give you many real life examples, but the space is too short. but if I represent you the Seller, and know your bottom line, and a Buyer asks me your bottom line, can I tell them? Can you see the (massive) potential conflicts here? Buyer agency was created precisely to do away with these conflicts of interest, and the market’s near total conversion to Buyer Agency confirms this.

QUESTION: But really, why do I NEED a Buyer agent, the “new home agent can answer my questions.” Yes they can, but they don’t represent you, and have very limited obligations to you, and full obligation to the Seller. This can cause them to shade the truth, sometimes not mention important items, or explain their terms fully, and always, ALWAYS guard the price. When do you discover/notice it? Typically at the worst possible times- when you are discussing money, more importantly your money, and how much you are going to pay- here is a real life story, it happened to me as a Buyer, long before I was an Agent and before Buyer Agency. It illustrates the dangers,the financial peril, of Not having a Buyer Agent on your side.

QUESTION: Do I need to have my buyer Agent with me to look at property, or can I look on my own? Absolutely. You can look on your own, they will ask if you represented, and I recommend the answer “Yes, by the McDonald Team.” In the main, it is best we take you as much as possible, that is part of our job, but not required, and if you are out and about and see something interesting by all means walk in and look around.

I hope this answered some of your questions and you enjoyed the videos. Your next step? Schedule a visit to Charlotte. Give us a Call. We love to have new families in town, and we’ll have hotel recommendations, we’ll be happy to show you around, look at some homes, and let you see for yourself if this city might be a good fit for you and your family.

Like to learn more about the Queen City? Visit the incomparable Charlotte Communities a blog about all things Charlotte. (my blog!) Things to Do is one of the favorite categories.