Editor’s Note: This is the first in an occasional series examining the Chatham County residential housing market.
PITTSBORO — A cozy white house on a corner lot in Pittsboro is perfect for Beci Markijohn Beasley and Mike Beasley, and their dogs, a pack of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and Bohemian Shepherds, making their active lives interesting .
For the Beasleys, who moved to Pittsboro from Apex, the new home is the reward for their patience, perseverance and a bit of luck. After months of searching, they closed last November.
“We were lucky to find our home when we did,” Beci said. “We made an offer on a Monday, and the next day as we were finalizing the sale, other people came in and started making offers, but ours got stuck.”
The home had been listed in the 2021 Home Parade, which attracted potential buyers. The Realtor.com website and other sites list the sale price of the 2,731 square foot home at $600,000.
Mike is a firefighter with the Apex Fire Department. Beci is sales support for Principled Technologies and works in sales and marketing for All Star Bikes in Cary. The couple lived in a townhouse in Apex and wanted more space with a yard for their dogs, which they raise and show. They also looked for a new home within 45 minutes of Apex that was not part of a homeowners association.
It was a daunting process.
When they decided to put their 2,500 square foot Apex townhouse on the market, they posted a “Coming Soon” sign on a Friday. Sunday, someone had made an offer on this subject, without us noticing it. According to realtor websites, it sold for $400,000.
Then they faced increasing pressure to find a new home to move into.
“A lot of the resale homes we bid on were sold before we could even bid,” Mike said. “We lost three or four different houses because we were outbid.”
The house they purchased was a new build, located just outside of Chatham Forest.
Offers higher than list price
The Beasleys’ experience is typical of the Chatham County real estate market, according to local realtors.
Kris Howard, the owner of Chatham Homes Realty, recalled a client who had made generous offers on seven homes, and none were accepted.
“My client was willing to pay $50,000 in due diligence and bid $50,000 above list price, and didn’t get the houses,” she said.
Then the client sweetened the pot with $50,000 due diligence and $200,000 more than the list and made a purchase.
Due diligence is the money buyers pay sellers to demonstrate their commitment to buying a home. If for some reason the sale fails – even if the buyer is having trouble getting a mortgage or the foundation of the house is cracked – the seller has the right to keep the due diligence payment. According to Howard, the typical due diligence offer is around $10,000, but during the real estate frenzy, buyers offered large sums, demonstrating their determination to buy their dream home.
“My client took a huge risk, but she swore she wouldn’t lose the house, and her strategy paid off,” Howard said.
According to data from the Triangle Multi-Listing Service, the median home price in Chatham County in April 2022 was $620,540, up 31% from April 2021, when the median price was $473,300. The average price of homes sold in April in Chatham was $749,343, a jump of 44.2% from last May.
Howard sees an increase in sales of homes that cost more than $1 million.
“We recently had more million dollar sales than we’ve ever had,” she said. “In the past, we typically sold maybe five million-dollar homes, and last year we doubled that number and sold several for over $2 million.”
Howard attributes much of the high sales to incoming residents from places where housing costs and home values are even higher than the Triangle area, such as California, Michigan, Connecticut and New Jersey.
“They’re used to the high cost of living, so when they come here they see a $500,000 to $600,000 house that we would consider expensive, but to them it’s a bargain because it would sell for $3 million. dollars where they come from,” she said. “So either they pay cash or they just buy a 4,500 square foot house.”
Data from a recent Triangle MLS report shows that median home prices in the Triangle area rose from $358,000 to $421,757 last year, an increase of 17.8%. The Triangle region covers 16 counties in central North Carolina. At $525,000, Orange County has the highest median home price. But the 31% increase in house prices in Chatham County is the largest percentage increase among Wake, Durham, Orange and Johnston counties.
Prices can stay high
An economist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte says he doesn’t see much change on the horizon, with higher mortgage interest rates balancing house prices, which are starting to stabilize.
“If you’re looking at a house today at 5.5% or are you hoping the market price of houses will drop a bit and buy later when mortgage rates are a bit higher?” asked John Connaughton, professor of financial economics and director of the UNC Charlotte Economic Forecast.
“In terms of your monthly house payment, there probably won’t be much difference,” he added.
Some buyers aren’t fazed by rising interest rates. For those with deep pockets, cash is king.
“We’re seeing more cash buyers than ever before,” Howard said. And the Beasleys have set their sights on more than one house that ended up making money.
While housing demand and rising costs are a topic in many places, the Triangle area is a particularly hot market thanks to economic development activity in the area, fueled by life-changing announcements. ‘a new industry, such as the electric car manufacturer VinFast, FedEx, the Toyota battery factory, Apple, Google and others.
Chatham “on fire”
These industries offer a mix of jobs ranging from high-paying tech positions to mid-range labor. And as more businesses and industries move into the area, so does the need for affordable housing.
“Chatham Market is on fire,” said Holly Fraccaro, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham counties. “While the VINFast manufacturing facility is very exciting news, it puts significant pressure on the region to develop housing and build a wide diversity of housing types and costs, which is challenging.”
She thinks building for more density will help alleviate some of the price and inventory issues.
“The reality is that the Triangle is growing by more than 60 people a day, and we need to lean towards building for more density, which allows for homes that our teachers, service workers and first responders can afford. ‘buy on their wages.’
Eric Andrews, broker and owner of Realty World Carolina Properties in Pittsboro, agrees there is a need for more affordable housing for people on modest incomes. He remembers times when land in Chatham County was cheap and houses were built on generous plots. And as prices began to rise in places closer to the jobs in Research Triangle Park, people continued to move farther in search of more affordable homes and land.
“In Chatham County we’ve usually put homes on a half acre or an acre lot or more, but in Cary you can have a quarter, a fifth or an eighth of an acre,” did he declare. “I sold many houses to teachers from Chatham to Sanford or Siler City because Pittsboro, Chapel Hill and Apex became too expensive. Now Sanford and Siler City are also raising their prices.
Andrews noted that today in northeastern Randolph County and southern Alamance, the Toyota battery plant is already impacting housing prices, which are also rising there.
“Over the past couple of years, it’s been like the asking price for a house is just a suggestion, because a lot of houses cost a lot more,” he said.
Popular rural areas
Despite the devastation that COVID-19 has inflicted on the population, the pandemic has created a paradigm shift in the way people work, and many people have fled their major cities to avoid the crowds, heading to areas more rural areas, including in central North Carolina, Howard said.
“We actually had the strongest two years we’ve ever seen with massive traffic of residents moving here and retirees,” she said. “We’ve seen huge growth in Chatham Park, and we’re also seeing a big boom in the Silk Hope area, where people want a few acres or more so they can have a big garden and chickens and room to spread out. . ”
Fraccaro sees no short-term downturn.
“Growth in business and industry will continue to influence the rate at which housing is needed, and I think demand will continue to outstrip supply for some time to come,” she said. “We need to do everything we can to unclog supply chain issues, produce construction workers and encourage young people coming out of high school to explore jobs in the trades.”
And while rising mortgage rates may slow the frenzy, the housing market will continue to boom, especially in North Carolina’s metro markets, Connaughton said.
“In Charlotte, Raleigh and the Triangle, the economy is developing very well,” he said. “Even if there is a slight recession later this year or next year, the metro markets will survive quite well due to the structure of their economy.”
Nine months after moving to Pittsboro, the Beasleys are still settling in. Their house, which was not quite finished when they bought it, is moving forward. They fenced off their backyard and installed a stone patio. They are located near downtown Pittsboro and can participate in Vineyards at Chatham Park facilities. They are still close to their jobs and friends in Wake County and feel like they have the best of both worlds.
“We were lucky to find this house when we did,” Beci said. “All we need here now is a Wells Fargo and a Harris Teeter.”