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Durham homes, in demand and cheaper, sell faster than in Raleigh

Durham proposing higher density to ease housing concerns

Durham housing is in demand, especially downtown, and city leaders are considering opening up the zoning to allow much more of it. Some neighborhoods want housing density vote delayed to allow further study.
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Durham housing is in demand, especially downtown, and city leaders are considering opening up the zoning to allow much more of it. Some neighborhoods want housing density vote delayed to allow further study.

The Durham housing market is still hotter than the rest of the Triangle, according to the latest figures.

House listings were up in the Triangle by 10.3 percent in January compared to January 2018. In Durham, the listings were up even more, with 12 percent more homes for sale, according to the Durham Regional Association of REALTORS and the Triangle Multiple Listing Service.

Durham’s market has led the Triangle because of its lack of inventory and lower price point across the board, said Tom Colley, president of the Durham Regional Association of REALTORS.

A house in Durham “flies off the market much more (quickly) than in Raleigh,” he said.

There were 637 Durham houses listed for sale in January, according to the TMLS listings, with total inventory in the Triangle of 7,631 units on the market.

The median sale price in the Triangle was $259,800, higher than Durham’s median price of $237,438.

Those Durham houses are also on the market for a shorter time than the rest of the Triangle, at 29 days. Triangle-wide, the average time on the market as of January was 40 days.

Colley said Durham has caught up with the Raleigh and Chapel Hill housing markets over the past two years, and now passed it.

“The market looks better here. The school system reputation is getting much better,” Colley said.

Colley said there have been some rumblings in the industry of the housing market slowing in the Triangle like the rest of the country, but nothing is clear yet.

Home inventory Triangle-wide increased 3.9 percent compared to this time last year. In Durham, that increase was 12.7 percent.

City leaders have said Durham is in a housing crisis and needs to build more homes to manage the influx of new residents.

Housing demand and affordability

Over the next 30 years, about 160,000 people are expected to move to Durham. To meet the expected growth, the city will need 62,200 new houses, according to the planning department.

Durham County tax assessments came out this month, and the assessed market rate for some houses around downtown more than doubled. The typical home is now assessed at $225,793.

This week, Durham Mayor Steve Schewel called for a $95 million affordable housing bond referendum. The City Council still has to vote to place it on the November ballot. Council members will meet on Thursday for a special meeting focused on affordable housing. Much of the bond money would fund the conversion and renovation of downtown public housing into mixed-income, mixed-use developments.

And the Durham Planning Department will bring the “Expanding Housing Choices” plan for more density in the urban tier before the Planning Commission in March. Then the recommendations to change city zoning will move on to the council and county commissioners for approval. If passed, it could allow more accessory dwelling units, duplexes and small homes on small lots in the downtown area.

Some neighborhood association boards have asked the council to slow down the process.

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Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan covers North Carolina state government and politics at The News & Observer. She previously covered Durham for 13 years, and has received six North Carolina Press Association awards, including a 2018 award for investigative reporting.
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