9 Investigates: What’s driving Charlotte’s competitive housing market

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The housing market in Charlotte is so hot, the average house sells for 10% above the asking price with multiple offers on the table.

People are so desperate to put down roots in the Charlotte area, they are willing to dig deep into their wallets.

Whether you want to buy a home or build one, the competition is steep. Some buyers are camping out for days for a chance to buy a lot in certain neighborhoods.

Richelle Pennington and her fiancé Drew Miyoshi live about 90 minutes outside New York City. For six months, they have been looking for a house in the Charlotte-area to be closer to family but the market is so hot, lots for new construction get snatched as soon as they are available.

Some people have resorted to camping out in model home parking lots like in Belmont’s McClean neighborhood to be the first in line.

They stake their claims with signs on chairs and cars. Pennington and Myoshi paid family and friends $20 an hour and overnight $30 an hour to hold their spot.

“My mom is camping out with my sister for this lot tomorrow,” Pennington said. “I was like, ‘OK, if you’re really OK with this, I’ll send you money to get wine and food.’”

Bob Bunzey is the couple’s realtor and he said their approach may sound extreme, but it will actually save them money.

“People are pretty desperate for homes,” Bunzey said. “Whereas she had to pay $2-3,000, the house price probably would have gone up $10,000 in the next release.”

(WATCH: Surrounding counties not immune to Charlotte’s affordable housing crisis)

Hiring campers paid off for Pennington and Myoshi -- they got the lot and will call Belmont home by the holidays.

Alan Banks has been building houses for 20 years, and he said he has never seen anything like this before.

He said there is a perfect storm hitting the new construction market: A wave of millennials who are looking to buy, skyrocketing cost and shortage of building supplies and lack of skilled labor.

Banks said the cost of lumber has jumped 350%, windows 20% and drywall 15%.

The price jumps happen so quickly that some builders are not willing to put a price tag on their homes until they are a few months into construction.

“It is a scary proposition to be in because it is much less risky if we start a home for you, we know what you like and you’re committed to buying it,” Banks said.

Channel 9 looked into why supplies for new construction are hard to find and cost so much. Developers said a lot of the lumber comes from Canada and there have been problems getting it. In addition, sawmills haven’t been processing as much because of COVID-19.

Action 9: In competitive market, what buyers have to do for a shot at the house they want

The Charlotte area housing market is on fire.

Interest rates are so low -- more people can afford homes and the inventory can’t keep up.

One couple selling their home told Channel 9 they had 13 showings lined up before it even went on the market. With competition like that, buyers are tempted to go well outside their comfort zone.

Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke asked a handful of realtors what buyers have to do in this market to have a shot at getting the house they want:

1. Get pre-approved -- not pre-qualified -- for a mortgage

2. Plan to pay well over asking price

3. Immediately schedule a showing appointment

4. Be prepared to get creative -- One realtor told Channel 9 it’s not just about offer price. They’ve heard of buyers paying seller closing costs, moving costs and allowing generous lease-back options after closing.

5. Expect a big difference between the list price and appraisal

6. Plan to pay a much higher due diligence fee, the money you give the seller to take the house off the market while you get the inspection, etc.

7. There was a difference of opinion between realtors about the last piece of advice -- Skip the inspection

Watch the video above as Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke breaks down what you may have to do to win the house you want.