REGIONALREPORT CharlotteWhy buy when you can rent?
Residential rents in Charlotte continue to rise as demand from consumers wary of buying houses surges ahead of available rental properties. But that may change over the next few years because construction of multifamily housing is booming. In the first six months of 2012, the county issued more than 3,000 building permits for multifamily units and fewer than 900 for single-family houses. The bursting of the housing bubble upended long-held assumptions about the value of home ownership, and the home-sales market has yet to recover, says Ken Szymanski, executive director of the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association. “Consumers are no longer convinced that buying is better than money in the bank. So the 28-year-old single female who used to say, ‘Oh, I’d better buy a house, I’d be stupid not to,’ is now saying, ‘Why would I buy a house?’”
According to Charlotte-based Real Data LLC, an apartment market-research company, the average rent in the Charlotte metro fell 7.2% to $697 between August 2008 and August 2009. It has risen 20.4% since, reaching $839 in September 2012. The vacancy rate, which hit its recession high of 13.6% in March 2010, was just 5.8%. “With the new construction boom, a lot of apartments are either under construction or planned,” says Engle Addington, an analyst for Real Data. “If those come online in the next year or two, you’ll see rents start to mitigate, there’ll be more competition and property owners will start to offer more rent concessions: one month free, maybe two. For a few months in 2009 and 2010, it was easy to see offers of three months free. I don’t know that we’ll ever get to that point again.”
Crying all the way to the bank
MoneyRates.com ranked the 10 worst states for banking last year, based on customer satisfaction, bank failures and interest rates. In case of a tie, the state with the bigger banking community got the better ranking.
2 South Carolina
6 Rhode Island
7 North Carolina*
8 New Hampshire
*With a below-average score for customer satisfaction and the failure of one of its banks in 2012, North Carolina beat out Rhode Island only by virtue of the tie-breaker.
CHARLOTTE — AREVA will establish its North American headquarters here, investing $404,000 and adding 130 to its local workforce of 562 within three years. The French company, which builds nuclear plants, employs 78 at subsidiary Columbiana Hi Tech in Greensboro. Average annual salary will be $130,000, higher than Mecklenburg County’s $57,144.
CONCORD — England-based Merlin Entertainments will build a $10 million, 30,000-square-foot aquarium at Concord Mills mall. It will open in 2014 and receive incentives of up to $238,000 from Cabarrus County and $162,712 from the city.
CHARLOTTE —Convergys will invest $1.8 million, adding 1,600 jobs at its two local call centers. The Cincinnati-based company, which offers customer-service support and employs 3,000 in the state, is also adding 100 workers at its Hickory call center.
CHARLOTTE — Duke Energy will not recoup the $10 million line of credit it extended the host committee of the Democratic National Convention (Regional Report, March). After writing it off as a business expense, the utility’s shareholders will be responsible
for about $6 million.
MONROE — The federal government approved Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport’s bid to add a U.S. Customs department, which will allow it to have international flights. It’s expected to open by summer 2014.
CHARLOTTE — Rack Room Shoes will consolidate the headquarters of subsidiary Off Broadway Shoes Warehouse, based in Alpharetta, Ga., into its Charlotte headquarters, investing $16 million and adding 87 to its local workforce of 184. Both retailers are part of Germany-based Deichmann Group. Average annual salary will be $70,000, higher than Mecklenburg County’s $57,144.