In its report “10 Real Estate Markets to Watch in 2012,” Inman News ranked Raleigh-Cary housing first on the list. It’s nice being at the top.
Local statistics support that ranking. In March, The N&O reported home sales in February were the best they’d been in four years — up 35 percent from the same time last year.
Anecdotal evidence supports it, too. Teresa Bowen, a broker with Keller Williams Realty Cary recently sold a listing off Penny Road that showed 28 times in six weeks and had multiple offers. It sold for more than the list price. Another of her listings, this one in Holly Springs, had been on the market a year with another agent and recently sold as well.
Bowen started noticing improvement in October of last year. “I believe people are seeing that we’re at the bottom of the market in terms of interest rates,” she says. “For every percent a rate increases, their purchasing power goes down 10 percent. That’s important for them to know, and I think people are seeing that.”
Inman News looked at the housing, economic and demographic data of Raleigh-Cary compared with nationwide data of other metropolitan areas. The report looked at above-average price appreciation, the job market, home affordability, home sales, distressed sales and other factors. Also on the list were Wichita, KS; Rochester, NY; Des Moines, IA; Chattanooga, TN; Peoria, IL; Amarillo, TX; Binghamton, NY; Cedar Falls, IA and Bloomington Ill.
The Triangle is no stranger to good rankings. In addition to the recent Inman ranking, Forbes recently named Raleigh number tops for Most Wired, Safest City and Best Place for Business and Careers. The rankings attract the interest of potential buyers from around the country. Kyle and Susan Murphy of Milford, New Hampshire recently toured the area with Bowen and are contemplating relocating.
“For quite some time we’ve heard good things about Raleigh—housing, employment options and an abundance of commerce and activities,” says Kyle Murphy, who, along with his wife, works in the financial industry. “The main reason for exploring the Raleigh/Durham area is employment. Being in New Hampshire, there aren’t many big employers in the tech/financial services industry so our employment options are limited. Having several employment options in Raleigh within a 20-minute commute is an outstanding opportunity.”
Bowen decided to give the couple a sampling of the Triangle, showing them three different areas. “I wanted to show them how we have a little bit of everything for everybody,” she says. “I started in Cary, describing it as an initial bedroom community for RTP in Raleigh which got big enough with businesses to sustain itself. Then I took them to Raleigh. We went through pretty parts of Duraleigh Road, and I took them downtown so they could see condo living. Then we went to Apex, and I showed them the downtown and how cute it is.”
The Murphys, in their late 30s, loved all three areas. They’re in a small town now, though, so they ruled out Apex. They liked Raleigh, too, because of all the activities, but in the end Cary was the winner.
“We really enjoyed Cary,” says Murphy. “Being a newer city and having the chance to get it right the first time, Cary has really done an exceptional job by creating a city that maintains small town charm. The amenities are outstanding, the greenways a brilliant idea. Being within a short commute to downtown Raleigh and the airport makes for a perfect location.”
Staging makes all the difference
Bowen said good staging is basically a requirement today if you want to have a shot against the competition. Her Holly Springs clients, Jill and Mike Giardino, recently sold their home after it had been on the market for a long period.
“We staged our house about halfway through the original listing last year and then we had new pictures taken,” says Jill Giardino. Teresa listed our house in December and we sold in March.” Jill did the staging herself. “The most important aspect of staging was getting rid of clutter,” she says. “We cleaned out closets, made sure shelves were neatly arranged, even the pantry was organized. We have a very open floor plan and made sure the colors downstairs flowed throughout. Upstairs we added towels and decor to bathrooms. We made all the bedrooms as clean and simple as possible.”
More good news: “Our current inventory is down 29 percent,” says Bowen. “When you have lower inventory, the prices will start going up and you’ll see a multiple bid situations.”
Bowen was afraid she might run into a multiple bids again recently with another client. Homebuyer Pierre Gingue was renting in the Wake Forest area after moving to North Carolina from Maryland for business. He decided he wanted to buy in the North Raleigh area.
Bowen found a home near Falls Lake that had been on the market only nine days; it had everything Gingue was looking for, including two acres of land.
“The house had a lot of activity, and that made us jump right on it for fear of losing it,” says Bowen. “They came back with ‘This is the price, take it or leave it.’”
Gingue took it. “There was very little negotiation but I was not too surprised because the house was listed very competitively,” he says.
Buy or wait? It’s a familiar concern, says Bowen. “The question is always, ‘Are home prices as low as they’re going to go?’” While industry reports predict prices may dip by about two percent, interest rates are projected to go up, Bowen says. “If I were to pinpoint the time, this is totally it.”