RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's no secret that the real estate market in Wake County is on fire.
News of major economic developments assisted in rapidly driving growth over the past few years. The massive influx in demand paired with supply chain issues has driven prices up as supply struggles to keep pace.
So prices have increased across the board, but some specific areas of the county are experiencing even larger-than-expected price jumps.
"Where we used to spend 30 days, 45 days in the house hunting process. Now, we're spending six months looking for houses because of a shortage of inventory," explained Elisa Moore, a broker associate at Five County Specialist Real Estate.
The average single-family home has sold for $154,000 more in recent months than five years ago, according to an I-Team analysis of Wake County tax records. In certain parts of the county, the jump in value has been even greater.
The sales of single-family homes in around a fifth of the county's zip codes increased in value by more than $200,000 since 2016.
The ABC11 I-Team uncovered the biggest increase in the value of single-family home sales in the northern area of the county near Creedmoor (27522) and Morrisville (27560).
In Morrisville, the average home sold for around $300,000 in 2016 but in recent months that value has jumped to around $575,000.
"I would say the Research Triangle Park is driving that. The location is good, Morrisville, when people are trying to go into Research Triangle Park and work. If you think about that it's centrally located with Cary, Raleigh, and Durham. We had a lot of national builders come in and so a lot of that land was purchased by national builders. And I think that's what's driven the price up there," Moore said.
The northern Raleigh area (27608) and the downtown area (27601) also rank as some of the top areas in the county experiencing huge spikes in the average value of single-family homes sold. Average homes sold in both areas for around $250,000 higher than the average in 2016.
Youngsville reported the smallest increase in value but the average home still sold an average of around $90,000 more than in 2016.
"It's very interesting because when I used to come to Zebulon to work, I passed tractors, farmers and now with the growth coming we're seeing more commercial shopping and traffic," Moore said.
Moore pointed to a huge increase in interest and development bleeding into rural areas outside the city center of Raleigh.
"I think it's healthy for these more rural towns that haven't seen a lot of growth. I think it's a good thing and as we see the push out from Raleigh ... I think it's healthy to see both commercial and residential growth," Moore said.
An increase in remote work positions has allowed many individuals to easily make the choice to move further from cities. But the expanding home value pushing homebuyers further from Raleigh can also create further disparities for workers still commuting.
"You may find a house that you can afford but what doesn't get figured into that equation is the cost of transportation. Most families living in exurban communities can spend up to 20% of their family budget simply on buying and maintaining their cars. That's a hidden cost. It's a significant cost," explained Tom Barrie, director of Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities Initiative at NC State.
Fuquay-Varina (27526), Wake Forest (27587), and Southeast Raleigh (27610) remain the top zip codes for the number of homes sold. All areas also were top spots for sales in 2016.
Southwest Raleigh (27539) and northeast Apex(27502) have slipped as top areas for the price of homes since 2016 when they reported some of the highest average home sales.
While growth is being felt across the county, the I-Team uncovered in recent months some of the value of homes is jumping particularly in areas that have lower median household incomes.
"We've seen those older subdivisions turn over now, North Hills is a perfect example of that. That area where they're taking those older homes, tearing them down, putting in new housing, but with that, the pricing goes up as well," Moore said.
At $67,000, the zip code around North Hills (27609) has one of the lower median household incomes in the county but the average homes sold for around $506,000 in recent months; a 51% increase since 2016.
Three of the top zip codes reporting some of the highest growth (27601, 27522 and 27605) are also some of the poorest areas of the county. Each area has a median household income of under $65,000 a year.
The jump in value is seen as potentially problematic for some, especially as affordable housing options throughout the county dwindle.
"It is deeply disturbing. It is really a legacy of disparities in the history of our country that often play out in our communities and our housing prices. Where we live can so affect how we live and the quality of our lives. That's why so many cities are looking at zoning reform and are looking at ways to create a more equitable housing market," Barrie explained.
Barrie believes to fully address affordable housing, towns and regions need to be coordinated in their efforts. Barrie is a board member of WakeUP Wake County, an organization committed to smart growth.
"The consequence of not planning ahead and not being ready for that is that prices will get out of control," said Nathan Spencer, WakeUp Wake County executive director.
Spencer explained while the area has space to expand development, cities need to be smart about expansion.
"The more sprawl brings more climate impacts, the worse conditions and rising prices, but it also costs us. Infrastructure costs because you got to run sewer and water, you got to do roads and maintenance. So the idea of building more densely and putting people in walkable areas is both smart climate regulation and policy, but also saves us money as an entire region," Spencer explained.
Barrie and Spencer point to the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route in Raleigh as optimism for the future.
"It's not whether growth is going to happen or not, it's how can we guide growth and one way to guide smart growth is through smart transit," Barrie said.
The route is planned to start at New Bern Ave in the same area of the county seeing the highest spike in home prices.
Spencer said city leaders are considering turning the old DMV headquarters along New Bern Ave. into housing along the route.
"This is the site of a future new bus rapid transit development with dedicated lanes and the area where the city is going to be putting in transit-oriented development, which is more density around transit like you see in in large cities or larger cities where people can easily live more affordably," Spencer said.
Spencer and Barrie also pointed to the $80 million affordable housing bond Raleigh's City Council passed in 2020 as an example of a step in the right direction.
"It's an earth-shattering amount of money. Already one year in is already starting to make an impact. We have development and acquisition going on. These things are going to have long-lasting impacts, but they also are symbolic, because to a certain extent, the municipalities around us cannot build their way out of affordable housing issues in crisis," Spencer said.
For buyers, Moore said she believes that the supply will eventually catch up as new developments are completed and it may stabilize prices slightly.
"The conversations that we're having right now are for buyers and sellers to be patient. Buyers, be patient it is going to come, we are going to see the inventory. The market will always correct itself," Moore said. "So hang in there and we'll help you find houses as they come available."