Booming real estate market puts high premium on affordable housing in central North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Surprisingly, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the local real estate industry is thriving as mortgage interest rates remain at record lows.

There are problems, however. The biggest is the lack of inventory of homes priced at the market average.

That means those who want to sell starter homes and move up in size are in the best position in the market.

Housing experts say when those people do put those $250,000 to $350,000 homes on the market, everyone wins.

"When you are selling an affordable house--what we would consider an affordable house today--then generally speaking, as a buyer you're moving up to the next level. That's opening up the ability for someone to buy that that first time homebuyer product that you're leaving," Lewis Grubbs explained.

Grubbs, who is the president of the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors and an agent for Coldwell Banker Advantage, said for the seller who is moving up there is still good value in higher-priced homes.

But those looking to buy in the starter home range don't have a large selection.

"If a person puts a home on the market that is under $300,000 and it lasts more than two days there's absolutely something wrong with it. We're also seeing multiple offers on those things," Grubbs said noting that those bidding wars are driving up prices and driving buyers away from the city centers.

"We're seeing values go up in Chatham County, Youngsville--Franklin County is becoming a new marketplace for us," he said, "We're seeing a lot of expansion out there, and we're moving into eastern Wake County."

But Raleigh officials are hoping to put affordable housing closer to the city center, near future transportation hubs, and close to workplaces for people like teachers, first responders, healthcare and essential workers.

To that end capital city leaders put an $80,000,000 affordable housing bond on the November ballot - a bond the Raleigh Regional Association of Realtors supported.

"Part of our mission is to put our money where our mouth is obviously. And our mouth has been, we support affordable housing as an association," Grubbs said adding that the bond passed, possibly because the tax increase that comes with it is only $23 a year for the owner of a $250,000 house.

"It'll certainly be an advantage to the affordable housing in our area, but also working with public-private partnerships to develop other opportunities that can be explored," he said.

But Grubbs noted that with more and more people becoming homeless during the pandemic there will be much more work to do and money to raise in the future.
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