By Hilary Reaves and Jill Mertens - As someone who has been tracking the downtown condo market for more than a decade, the numbers and prices can be somewhat predictable, so I was pleasantly surprised to find something that stood out. While we all tend to know instinctively that new development can drastically change an area, the kind of impact isn’t always clear. So I enlisted the help of my colleague Jill to test the numbers.
The warehouse district of Downtown Raleigh has completely changed over the past few years. Prior to the Dillon and the new Union Station, condos at Park Devereux and Dawson sold within a fairly predictable price range. The Martin Place Condos were built in 1997 and there are only 12 of them. They’ve traditionally sold for under $300/ft ($278/ft for 2015), and the turnover is quite low. Only one a year, or none at all, as there were in 2016 and 2014. But low and behold - suddenly in 2017 the price per SF jumped to a average $348/ft.
The Dillon complex has brought stores like Urban Outfitters, restaurants like Oak Steakhouse, O-Ku Sushi, Barcelona Wine Bar and – soon, the Weaver Street grocery store. The new train station and the Morgan Street Food Hall are also welcome additions. So Jill dug deeper to see if all this new activity also drove an increase in the rest of the condo buildings.
In 2017- when the Dillon was announced, average sold $/sq ft for condos in the warehouse district increased a whopping 11.29% over 2017- thanks in large part to a huge bump in the value attributed to the oldest units at Martin Place condos. Living through construction was surely not fun but owners at Martin Place were rewarded financially for the inconvenience.
Construction may have dampened the interest in the area for a period of time. During the primary construction year of 2018, condo values in the area increased- but at a rate (4.41%) a bit below that of condos in ITB overall (6.28%). But perhaps after the big jump, the rest of the prices fell in line with the more traditional rate.
Now that construction is complete and facilities are open, YTD 2019 condo values in the warehouse district have gone up 6.21% over 2018 - which is more than 4 percentage points more than that ITB overall (now at a year-over-year increase of 1.95%
It’s worth noting that the volume of condos we’re talking about are pretty low in the warehouse district, compared to a couple hundred overall ITB, so perhaps not the most statistically significant data. But those in the area can feel the difference from the before and after the new development. The warehouse district is truly buzzing with activity where old warehouses once stood vacant. Clearly buyers value the proximity to all that the Warehouse District has to offer.
By Hilary Reaves - When you google “raleigh walkable neighborhoods” you get some pretty interesting results. One blog post touted a neighborhood in Raleigh with “gushing rivers and mountain views.” Umm… not sure where the algorithm went wrong there. Walkscore listed Stonehenge as one of the top 3 walkable neighborhoods. I saw that and literally laughed out loud. Stonehenge might be conveniently located to several things, but top 3? No. After my quick search, I felt like a human needed to step in and explain the best options without regard to SEO keywords and GIS based algorithms.
Here are the best Raleigh walkable neighborhoods, judged by an NC native and resident of the Triangle for 25+ years, and someone who has lived in several of these neighborhoods.
This is defined as 1 mile of the capital. Obviously the best access to just about everything you need given the density. This includes condos, apartments, Oakwood, Boylan Heights, Mordecai, Glenwood/Brooklyn, Glenwood South, South Park, College Park, etc. You’ve got a lot of options, depending on your budget, from 100 year old houses to townhomes to new construction homes. The center of it all.
A destination with 2 grocery stores, library, multitude of restaurant styles and price ranges, dry cleaners, hair salons, fitness/yoga, and more. Several apartment buildings now surround the retail area, but many single family homes are close by in Cameron Park, Cameron Village, University Park, and further down past the Little Theater. Cameron Village kind of overlaps onto Hillsborough Street near the NCSU area, so any of those neighborhoods all the way down to Faircloth are pretty walkable.
Only 2 miles from the downtown core, Five Points is a destination known for its intersection. Lily’s Pizza is the most famous place here, but Hayes Barton Cafe is well known, in addition to Nofo at the Pig. A post office, drug store, banks, and many antique stores are available, plus the Rialto Independent theater and several additional restaurants. Much more of a residential feel than the downtown core, but still very active.
One of the largest destinations after Downtown, North Hills is a newer development where they ripped down the old mall and redeveloped it into an outdoor shopping area, kind of like a downtown. Complete with a Target, hotel, REI and many boutiques, North Hills has parking decks, programmed activities, and tons of restaurants. While there are limited locations to actually live within walking distance, with an ample amount of parking, many might be satisfied living a 5 minute drive away. Because once you park, you can have dinner, see movie, and do some shopping, without getting in your car between each activity.
This neighborhood has become the place where people graduate to when they have outgrown their bungalow and need more space. The huge yards in Longview and older homes let people keep the charm they want in a home, it adds some square footage, and they are only 2 miles from the core of Downtown. The Alamo Drafthouse and continuing evolvement of retail in this area will only make it more attractive.
Those looking for more of a greenway access for walkability may venture further out, but stay “inside the beltline.” Many properties in the Ridge Road area provide access to Whole Foods and other retail in the Ridgewood center, but are close to the greenway access that takes you over the 440 bridge to the NC Art Museum grounds.
Rex Hospital Area
The thing about many parts of Raleigh is that a popular area does not look very sexy to a newcomer. No curb appeal and the retail areas might even be a bit run down. This is the case with the area off Lake Boone Trail near the hospital. Fast food and a giant parking lot aren’t the typical things people want in a walkable neighborhood. But the Village Deli, Chubbie’s Tacos, and Sushi Thai have been around forever. The mid century ranch homes in Meredith Woods, and the townhomes right off of Wycliff Rd, are some of the more affordable properties within walking distance to something. There’s the newer shopping area with Guasaca, a bottle shop, and other restaurants and retail as well.
Woodcrest / Belvedere Park - Just outside the 1 mile radius of Downtown Raleigh, these neighborhoods give you proximity to Downtown and have parks and the revitalized Gateyway Plaza to walk to, as well as access to the greenway. I like this neighborhood for cyclists because you can get to downtown through other neighborhoods without relying on a major road.
Agree? Did we miss something more walkable than some of these? Tell us your favorite neighborhoods and why you like them for walkability.
By Jill Mertens
For many of my buyer clients, walkability is a key criteria in their home search. They want to find a home that will allow them to walk to Downtown Raleigh restaurants, museums, parks and shops.
While there are several condominium complexes in the center of downtown, buyers that want to purchase a single family home will want to focus on one of 5 neighborhood areas nestled around the center city. These neighborhood areas include:
1. Glenwood-Brooklyn (my ‘hood!)
2. Mordecai / Oakwood
3. East Downtown
4. South Park
5. Boylan Heights
If you’d like a tour of these neighborhoods, give me a call or text at (919) 673-9643!
On any given Saturday night, my husband and I might be found in or near any one of the areas checking out new restaurants or visiting one of our favorite haunts. Others may not be inclined to walk quite as far. With this in mind, I have started to create a new video series highlighting some of my favorite restaurants that are situated closest to each neighborhood. The first one is focused on the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood and the Glenwood South restaurant district.
By Hilary Reaves
Condo owners can rejoice, and buyers looking to purchase a condo using an FHA loan can finally explore a few more options in Downtown Raleigh or other area of the Triangle. The new rule allows for several things, but most important in my mind are:
Overall, this is a very positive move that should help condos become attractive options for buyers. The strict limits in the old days of 25-35% investors definitely hurt a few buildings downtown and we witnessed some serious damage to values as a result of sellers "giving away" their homes to cash buyers, who were usually investors, which only made the problem worse. The move to 50% helped back then, and this further expansion will open the door to more buyers.
HUGE DISCLAIMER - financing is already pretty difficult to talk about b/c of how tied it is to your situation and every detail matters. Surely this rule has small print as well, so always check with your lender to see how this rule applies to your situation.
By Jill Mertens
We all know that this is a wonderful place to live- and the rest of the world is certainly catching on. Approximately 63 (net) people move into Wake County every day. I am also starting to see more non- residents come in to invest in residential and commercial real estate in the area. We all see the building going on every day in each of our cities. It is a good thing, too, because we have less than 3 months worth of inventory for sale (and according to the FindWell real estate dictionary, anything less than 6 months of inventory is considered a seller's market). All told, I continue to believe that our investments in local real estate make strong financial sense.
We are beginning to see some signs of slowing, however. It is starting to take a little more time for houses to sell;
- According to Triangle MLS, the YTD average Days On Market (DOM) for Wake County actually increased 20% from 25 in May 2018 to 30 in May 2019.
- The number of crazy multiple offer scenarios also appear to be slowing. Don't get me wrong, good homes priced appropriately and staged to sell are still moving! But things are starting to level out now and we may see prices start to decrease a bit in the coming years.
Because of these factors that we are starting to see emerge in the market, this may be a very good time for you to sell your home if you think you may need to cash in on the equity in your home sometime in the next 2 - 5 years. For this reason, my husband and I recently tore down one of our investment properties and are building a new home to sell early next year. We bought the home as a foreclosure and after holding it for 3 years as a rental, we decided to maximize our profit by acting now before the market softens.
Even though it might be a good time to sell, the challenge is always how to not overpay on the next place as a buyer, since the market is still leaning in the seller’s favor. This is where a professional can help you sort things out and make a plan that takes into account your entire situation. Contact me today if this sounds like the kind of dilemma you are facing.
by Jill Mertens
Every once in a while, I work with buyers that have requirements for their home which are so specific that we just can't find what they want within the existing inventory of available homes - so we change gears and start looking for land and builders. I recently had one such property close with a wonderful client and a great builder so I wanted to share some thoughts. New homes are wonderful because you get to specify exactly what you want. I also love that once your home inspection is complete, we can hand it to the builder with expectation that all items will be addressed. When your home is new, it is as close to perfect as it ever will be!
Of course, there are challenges with building a new home. First, it does not happen overnight so a buyer must be prepared to live somewhere else while the home is under construction. Recent changes in Wake County's permitting process have only added time to the process- but we hope that has begun to stabilize. Finding lots and selecting the right builder is also a project in-and-of-itself (just because a builder has a license does not necessarily mean they are a good fit for you!). Lastly, the selection of colors, appliances, lighting, faucets and other hardware can be exciting to some- but absolutely overwhelming to others.
And then there is price. In most markets, a new home will cost more than a newly renovated one. (Oddly, this was not the case in the downtown Raleigh area until a year or so ago.) Unfortunately, the costs associated with construction have been on a steady rise so home prices will continue to increase. My husband, Paul, who is in the appliance industry, has seen prices jump up to 30% since new tariffs were introduced on imported appliances, hardware, etc. As I am sure you see on the news every day, this situation is in flux and I hope that it will stabilize soon. At the same time, labor costs are also rising dramatically. Builders tell us that immigration issues have exacerbated the labor shortage which has, in turn, further increased costs as well as build timelines. Needless to say, it is a challenge for builders to manage all these variables.
These are strange and exciting times! This is where a well-informed professional can help determine whether it makes sense to buy new, buy existing or buy-and-renovate. Contact me today if you are debating these same options.
As if the stress weren’t enough… keeping the house clean, removing the dog, remembering to close the toilet lid (yes, every time), and whatever else, now there is a hurricane a’comin. Or maybe you just went under contract for a new house, and have to deal with a hurricane as part of your Due Diligence.
While you’re stressing (and your Realtor is, too, trust me) locals brush it off and head for the ABC store. Others dust off the playing cards and board games and prepare for no power. Whatever your attitude, here are a few tips from the Metro Digs team to keep you safe, and to avoid some major hassle.
Overall, use your head! Listen to the news stations and don’t try to walk or drive in water where you don’t know the current or the depth. This weekend probably won’t be the best time to get out and look at property, depending on how bad the storm is. But with all the rain, you can see which areas tend to flood and which ones are fairly safe. Locals know this, but it’s a good learning experience for those that haven’t been here long.
Be safe out there. Here's the official site for the State with some good info.
Most people looking to buy a house focus on the neighborhood and finding the house that they want. They talk to friends, co-workers, and family about their wish list and spend hours online. Some may enlist the help of a Buyer Agent, but I find that many people contact the listing agent directly, or whatever agent happens to be advertising on the website being used, and so they may only consider a Buyer Agent when they find what they want and aren’t quite sure what to do next. Or they even may end up with a Buyer Agent without realizing it.
As an agent and Realtor, I always try to let people know what my role is when I talk with them. It’s important, and it DOES matter. This post will tell you why it matters and why you should have a Buyer Agent.
1) Information is leverage - You need to know who you are talking to because, just like if you play poker, you don’t want to give away your hand. You don’t want to tell a listing agent for your dream home that you have to have a house ASAP because your lease is ending. Or that you are only qualified to buy a certain amount. Or that you just inherited lots of money. This information can possibly hurt you during negotiations. If you appear desperate or too eager, the listing agent will tell the seller and that seller isn’t going to budge on anything. Alternatively, if you have to sell your house prior to buying, you don’t want to say too much about your current home. Let your buyer agent advise you first before even bringing that up. Yes, you’re just buying a house, but transactions can get very complicated and an experienced Buyer Agent can see farther down the road and can foresee how certain information can be misunderstood, misused, or hurtful.
2) Contract Management - It takes money to buy a house, so a good agent will also be a good project manager. Deadlines are critical and organization is key to helping you avoid spending money that could be lost. It’s important to prioritize your due diligence period activities with your agent so that you take the approach that is best for you and for the property. This is probably the one aspect of real estate that can sometimes be learned too late. Perhaps the agent referred to you is a lot of fun and really friendly, but doesn’t have a business mind or attention for detail. Ask these questions up front:
- What is their process for transaction management?
- What tools do they use?
- How have the last few transactions gone for them?
- How would they describe their approach to a multiple offer situation?
3) Location and experience matter - Land-use changes, especially in urban areas, and upcoming development can be years away, but a good agent will be aware of all these things or at least know where to investigate to see if anything is upcoming. They’ll share the info with you and you can decide if you care. Do you want to look out your window 3 years from now and see a wall? The listing agent may not be keen to tell you what’s going to be built next door or nearby, but your buyer agent will.
Not only that, but an inexperienced agent can hurt you as well. I had a listing one time where the buyer contacted me directly for the showing and he wanted to make an offer. I advised him that my sellers wanted exclusive representation, so he needed to find a buyer agent. He did, and the offer that he submitted was on a contract that was at least 10 years old. His agent clearly had not practiced real estate recently and upon further investigation, was based three hours away. The sellers flat out refused the offer because of this inexperience and associated risk. It did not bode well for a smooth transaction, and didn’t give any confidence that the buyer had educated himself on the property and the process. Yes, things could have been transferred to a newer contract, but the sellers saw warning flags everywhere and did not see the buyer as serious. Don’t lose a property because of simple things like this. In this competitive market, having a good agent on your side can make a difference. A listing agent obviously wants what is best for their seller, but that also includes working with a Buyer Agent who is organized and knows what they are doing.
4) Avoid risk - Similar to the experience above, a good agent who is familiar with the area can help you avoid buying the wrong property. Many things impact resale value, and while that is the last thing on your mind as you look at property, it’s how a lot of Buyer Agents think. A home is an investment and a good agent will make sure you know the negative features in addition to all the positive. Most buyers are fine with a few negative items as long as they know about them in advance.
5) Legal Requirement - That’s right, it is legally required for an agent to disclose who they are working for at first substantial contact. Most agents put the brochure in their email signature, others may physically bring it with them to the first meeting, others may reference it, but however it is done, you need to know who they are working for. The odd thing is, it can sound like a sales pitch to a consumer not familiar with why they are suddenly being told about “agency” when all they want to do is schedule an appt to see a property.
If you made it this far, I hope that this has given you plenty to think about and that you understand why knowing the role of the agent is so critical and how important having a good Buyer Agent can be. Even if you are the most business savvy executive and deal with contracts every day, the local market knowledge of an agent and their experience can save you time, money and help eliminate risk.