Eastern Wake: Opinion

Guest column: New construction data proves region’s promise

The real estate market continues to improve with new construction start-ups, and eastern Wake County is seeing its share of the comeback. Since the decline of the residential construction industry in late 2007, little to non-existent building activity has been noticed, especially in the Knightdale, Wendell and Zebulon markets, but that is changing. Permits are up, sales are up, and consumer optimism has increased dramatically over the last year.

Statistics support this reported growth in the housing market. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Building Permits Survey dated September 2014, nearly 1 in every 5 units within the state of North Carolina was authorized for building permits, with a large share being the construction of single family homes. In fact, Wake County was above the national average for new residential construction in 2013, with the national average being 62.7 percent and Wake County coming in at 68.9 percent.

An improved economy is another reason for residential growth in Wake County. The North Carolina Department of Commerce reports that the 2013 median family income increased 25.3 percent over the previous year, enabling more people to make an investment in a new home.

Dr. Michael Walden, author, columnist and professor at N.C. State University, seems to agree with this renewed level of optimism. In another report, he contributes a positive voice. “If any region in this country has the fundamental strength to deal with economic unknowns, it is the Triangle,” he notes, referencing its world-class universities, cutting-edge technology, healthcare and a forward-looking private sector, among many other factors.

After many professionals in the local residential construction business closed their doors since the economic downturn and moved on to more lucrative work, I noticed the recent growth in this area. I re-opened my office in Zebulon to assist homebuyers with their design needs, a move that reinforces the fact that eastern Wake County, a stone’s throw away from the Triangle, is also finding its way back on a growth track.

With many years as a designer in North Raleigh and in Wilmington, the construction meltdown caused me to take a step back and re-evaluate the market. With new data showing signs that the residential market is improving, I decided that this may a good time to re-enter the housing industry and relocate closer to the growth potential.

Renee P. Baker of Parrish Realty echoes this idea that eastern Wake County is getting back on track. “Our area was poised for growth when the economic downturn occurred in late 2007,” she says. “ An upswing in the economy, coupled with the availability of undeveloped land and ease of commuting from eastern Wake into RTP and surrounding areas, make our part of the county very attractive for development. It has been a long time coming, but I think we will finally start reaping the benefits.”

According to Mark Hetrick, Planning Director for the Town of Zebulon, eastern Wake County is definitely seeing new growth.

“Zebulon’s industrial tax base is strong and ever-growing as evidenced by new industries that are currently under construction while existing industries are undergoing or planning expansions,” Hetrick said. “Renewed interest within Zebulon’s housing market is also apparent as a total of 140 new homes have been permitted within the past two years (2013-2014) as compared to only 24 homes being permitted within the previous two years (2011-2012).”

David Hughes is a home designer with more than 29 years experience in the home design industry.