America’s fastest-growing suburb is in the Triangle

With home prices skyrocketing near urban cores in recent years and millennials easing into child-rearing years, the suburbs are booming once again.

And no suburb is growing faster at the moment than Apex, according to a recent study by Realtor.com.

Apex — about a half hour southwest of downtown Raleigh — has been one of the hottest spots for new construction in the Triangle for the past decade, and that has especially been true the past three years, according to data from Realtor.com.

The number of home listings in Apex over the past three years has increased by more than 307 percent — most of that being new construction.

“There is a lot of new construction right now,” said Drew Ludlow, a Triangle real estate broker with Giving Tree Realty. “Re-sales are very low across the board, but new construction has been booming.”

Almost everywhere you look across the town, Ludlow said, a builder is clearing land for 50 or 100 homes. I am always finding “a new community popping up,” he said.

As land prices have increased, builders are looking further out from downtown cores to build homes. That has especially been true in southern Wake County, home to some of the state’s fastest-growing towns.

Apex, which had an estimated population of 50,451 in 2017, was the 10th fastest-growing town in North Carolina last year and the 11th fastest-growing one since 2010, according to estimates from the Census Bureau.

“A fast-growing suburb gets that way by attracting builders — working up a business case for people to come in and build in their community,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for Realtor.com. “These [are places that] have what people want. They aren’t right in the city, and they aren’t too far out, where commute times are long.”

For its study, Realtor.com analyzed more than 7,000 ZIP codes, focusing on ones outside a city’s limits and within an hour’s commute in rush hour to the center of the nearest urban area. It also considered home appreciation over the past three years, the number of home listings over the same time frame, population growth and new construction.

The top ZIP code for that analysis was 27523 in Apex, the real estate listing website found.

But the homes in that surging ZIP code aren’t exactly cheap. According to its research, the list price of a median home in Apex is now $494,900 and homeowners have seen a price appreciation of 50 percent over the past three years.

The homes most in demand are four-bedroom homes priced between $400,000 to just over $500,000, Ludlow said.

Ludlow said that he believes Apex is just as popular or more for home searchers now as Raleigh is — especially those looking for new construction. That clearly wasn’t the case a decade ago, he added, noting the town benefited from spillover growth from Cary.

“I think the reason is location, we are two-and-a-half hours from the beach, three hours from the mountains and we have Jordan Lake five to 10 minutes away,” he said. “Apex doesn’t necessarily have the traffic and congestion that Raleigh has yet.”

“What’s driving the new construction?” Ludlow said. “I think … close proximity to (Research Triangle Park) is one, and we also have great access to 540.”

Apex’s quaint downtown with a healthy mix of retail and restaurants also has helped.

What’s next?

And there’s still plenty of growth left in that corner of Wake County, Ludlow said.

“Because we are now on the map for pretty much everything — including, possibly Amazon and Apple — we are getting lots of hits from people wanting to move here form the West Coast or New England because of our tech jobs,” he said. “We already have a lot of pharmaceutical jobs and RTP, but now I am seeing a lot of people that are involved in tech and software.”

Apex could continue to grow at its current rate for the next five or so years, depending on the health of the economy, Ludlow argues.

And just like Apex grew off the back of Cary’s expansion, the towns of Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina and Pittsboro (with the coming Chatham Park development) should also continue to grow rapidly.

Top 10 Fastest-Growing Suburbs

  1. Apex

  2. Ponte VerdaBeach, Florida

  3. Frisco, Texas

  4. Scottdale, Georgia

  5. Lakewood Ranch, Florida

  6. Arabi, Louisiana

  7. Manor, Texas

  8. Aurora, Colorado

  9. Waukee, Iowa

  10. Nolensville, Tennessee

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