CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County commissioners fear companies are driving up housing costs with cash offers that are well over the asking price. The county says companies are buying single-family homes and pricing people out.
Commissioners wanted to know if anything they can do about the situation, but on Tuesday afternoon, they found out they can do very little.
“It’s disgusting,” County Commissioner Mark Jerrell said.
He was talking about the large number of homes being purchased in “The Crescent,” which makes up the western, northern and eastern parts of Charlotte.
He didn’t mince his words. Jerrell says companies buying many single homes in the area may not be illegal, but he says their actions are unethical.
“This issue of affordable housing. This issue of affordability, housing and lack thereof in our community. We are living in a powder keg,” Jerrell said.
The county assessor estimates companies own about 13,600 single-family homes in Mecklenburg County. More than 93% of them were purchased for $300,000 or less.
According to Redfin, more than one-third of Charlotte homes in the last quarter of 2021 were purchased by investors.
“It is unacceptable to our constituents and the residents of Mecklenburg County to say, ‘We can’t do anything about it,’” Jerrell said.
However, commissioners were told they are limited in what they can do.
Commissioner Laura Meier asked if they could charge a different tax rate on companies buying homes. The county attorney said that approach would be illegal.
Solutions that were offered included investing more in affordable housing, working with HOAs to cap rentals and working with lawmakers in Raleigh to de-incentivize corporate ownership.
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“None of us want to have the state come after us. We want to follow the law,” Vice Chair Elaine Powell said.
Commissioners want more guidance from the county manager on what they can do, but the chairman is tempering expectations.
“What I don’t want to do is have people believe we can do something we can’t,” he said.
According to Redfin, investor purchases in Charlotte are up 93%. UNC at Charlotte’s Urban Institute says six companies are the main owners of the properties.
Research shows most of the homes purchased by these companies are in The Crescent.
(WATCH BELOW: Charlotte leaders approve $12.4 million to go toward affordable housing developments)
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