Developers and agents see improvement in local real estate

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Remember the site...and spectacle...of last year's Home Arama?

The much-anticipated event is The Home Builders Association of Charlotte's annual showcasing of luxury homes, and in 2010 it took place at The Preserve at Robbins Park in Cornelius. But days before Home Arama's opening, the builder - swanky Simonini Homes - announced a shocker.

Simonini was closing shop. citing "catastrophic changes" in the real estate industry.

At the time, Bill Saint, was with Simonini. "Home Arama was probably the most exciting time as a builder, and at the same time, the most unfortunate time," he recalls.

Simonini's demise seemed like more evidence that a rebound was far off in the future.

But the latest evidence points otherwise.

Saint stuck with the project, forming a new company called Classica Homes, and he's proving what a difference a year can make.

"The difference at Robbins Park has been phenomenal, to see all the families moving in now," Saint says.

It's not just Saint's tenacity, though, that's spurring the rebound here. He says consumer sentiment has altered.

"As they walk in," Saint says, "you can sense that the fear of job loss is not there."

Jane Cross is a real estate agent, and she believes the entire market has reached a turning point.

"Oh absolutely," Cross says. "From last year, fourth quarter, to this year, fourth quarter, we've got about 35% more buyers closing homes, which is awesome, and that's throughout the Charlotte market."

Cross also credits a change in attitude.

"I think the fear is gone," she says.

And she says potential buyers should note it.

"If you're a buyer, and you've been sitting on the fence - jump," Cross says. "It's time to get in. I think it's going to get more competitive for you."