Triangle House Hunter Articles

Below you will find articles on housing market research, tips for home buyers and sellers, new technology, and local events!


April 6, 2020

Triangle Real Estate Market - Coronavirus Update for January 2021

December and January update:

We are not getting the listings we need! There is so little supply that most listings that are well prepped for the market are going over asking price. The rule of thumb for a sellers market is anything under 4 months of inventory supply (meaning if no other homes came on the market then all supply would be exhausted in 4 months). We are now at 0.9 months in some parts of the Triangle. See below table for Durham:

Durham Housing Market December 2020


October and November update:

I'm writing this section on December 2nd, and the market activity has finally started to slow down a bit. Usually the slowdown comes in early November, but the market remained strong for longer than usual into Thanksgiving.

Desirable homes are still selling at or above asking price, but the rate of sales has slowed. We have both less home buyers and less home sellers this time of year. I would say the market activity is about 1/3 of what it is in busiest time of year (Spring and early Summer). 

We are wrapping up a crazy year, with the busiest summer and fall I've seen. The Triangle market has appreciated between 7-9% this year, depending on what metric you use (average sale price or median sales price). Those are pretty strong numbers, and hopefully we can extend those gains into 2021. With the expected population increase and housing demand in the area it looks promising.

September update:

Prices are still going up due to lower levels of inventory (less homes are being listed than normal). The market should start to "slow" a little bit as we get closer to the holidays. However, I think bidding wars will still be common this fall on a lot of homes due to low inventory.

July and August update:

The market is currently the busiest I have ever seen it for this time of year, and many homes are selling a good 2-4% over asking price with multiple offers. The low inventory plus high demand is causing these price increases. 

With lots of time being spent inside people are focusing more on housing. I've noticed more people are looking for the larger house and/or larger yard so they have more space to enjoy. Upgrading from a smaller home or apartment to a larger home, or a townhome with a yard has become much more common.

June update:

The market is even more competitive right now than it was in May. The big wave of sales that was expected after the stay at home order was lifted has happened, and a large portion of homes are selling at or above asking price.

Another difference between May and June is we now have more inventory coming on the market, so the volume of home sales is increasing. In May people weren't listing their homes because they did not want people coming into their homes for showings or open houses. That has started to lighten up a bit, with more people comfortable with listing in June versus May.

May update:

The market has become a strong sellers market due to not enough homes being listed. Many people who occupy their home are not wanting to list during coronavirus, and so the supply of homes for sale is very low. Demand hasn't changed nearly as much as supply, and therefore prices are going up with multiple offers on many listings. 

April Update:

With the coronavirus affecting the Raleigh-Durham area just like the rest of the country, several changes to our market have taken place. Withdrawn listings are up 700% according to the MLS (multiple listing service), and people are staying at home due to the stay at home order. In-person showings are only allowed on vacant homes in Durham (but are allowed for all types of occupancy everywhere else - Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cary, etc). 

It's not all bad news however, as when I look through the recently listed homes a large portion are still selling quickly, especially in the sub 400k market. People are still needing to move and still purchasing homes. Even in Durham, where in person showings of occupied homes are not allowed, home buyers are using 3D virtual walk-through tours, or having their agent facetime them. They then place an offer on a house without actually seeing it in person using a sight-unseen addendum that was created.

The low days on market count ("homes selling quickly") that we are still experiencing is due to the low level of inventory in the market. Before coronavirus we had levels of inventory of around 2 months. Anything below 3 months can described as a strong sellers market, and with home sellers taking their homes off the market right now inventory levels have not increased. With supply so low, it would take almost zero demand to move us from a sellers market to a neutral market. 

I have clients on both the buying and selling side who are waiting until the stay at home order is lifted to move forward. Once that happens, we should see a huge wave of activity and sales. Even though we are still in sellers market, the amount / pace of sales is slower than normal right now. That should change once the stay at home order is lifted and everyone who has been waiting starts to look at homes again.

Feb. 26, 2020

My Top 5 Downtown Raleigh Neighborhoods

Maybe real estate agents, like parents, shouldn’t have favorites, but I do find that sometimes certain areas stand out above the others.  

Raleigh is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Tucked away in this historic capital city of North Carolina are five neighborhoods that offer charm, character, and surprising rural touches, yet are close to amenities that city folk appreciate. Here's my personal glimpse into what makes each of these areas special.

Cameron Park 

Cameron Park was established over 100 years ago as a more upscale neighborhood and has as rich a history as the state capital. It’s situated just slightly over a mile west of Raleigh and was one of Raleigh’s first suburbs. Commuters rode the trolley down Hillsborough Street to work and to shop. Cameron Park offers great shopping, great schools, and great parks of its own these days, though Raleigh is so near.

This neighborhood offers a variety of architectural styles. Whether you’re looking for a bungalow, Tudor, Queen Anne, or something else altogether, you’ll likely find it in Cameron Park.

Why I love it: Cameron Park is just so charming. This is a lovely older neighborhood with parks featuring beautiful mature hardwood trees. Explore the historic service alleyways behind the large homes that are signature to this location.

Cameron Park House

Boylan Heights

Like a lot of the downtown Raleigh area, Boylan Heights has been designated a historic district. But if you think historic means boring, think again! It may seem like your typical quiet suburb, but Boylan Heights hosts a close-knit community that loves to party. From the Big Boylan Bash to Progressive Dinners, the neighbors love to get together to celebrate.

But if there’s nothing happening right in Boylan Heights, there are plenty of fun-filled choices just a short walk away. Enjoy a show at the Red Hat Amphitheater or try your luck at games you find at the Boxcar Bar + Arcade.

Why I love it: Boylan Heights has a huge art walk in the fall. Hundreds of vendors are welcome to set up on the front lawns of all the homes. It’s a great opportunity to get unique Christmas gifts and it’s just tons of fun.

boylan heights home


Here's another classic historic neighborhood in Raleigh, right next to downtown. You’ll find top notch shopping, eating, and entertainment within walking distance. Summertime boasts beautiful flowers and shady tree-lined streets. Come October, you just might want to brave the Halloween House and take a peek at the frightfully fun decorations. Whatever time of year you visit, be sure to take along a free walking tour brochure.

Why I love it: Oakwood has an incredibly popular home tour every year. It’s your chance to step inside some of the oldest homes in the Triangle. A must-do if you love the Victorian style!

oakwood home

Five Points

Technically, Five Points is several neighborhoods. These neighborhoods vary in home styles and sizes, but their five streets meet in the middle to create a unique community. 

Five Points offers trendy restaurants, craft breweries, taprooms, and casual Sunday brunches. And don’t forget to check out The Rialto Theatre. It’s the oldest theater in Raleigh and has been in continuous operation since 1942.

Why I love it: Five Points is just a touch removed from downtown—just barely! You’ll love the great local restaurants and Raleigh’s oldest independent movie theater.

five points house

University Park

This area has a rich and vibrant history that includes the subdivision of Oberlin, built by former slaves and free black Americans at the end of the Civil War. Two of the original homes from that era still remain and are being restored to become headquarters for Preservation North Carolina.

The University Park neighborhood association is one of the oldest in Raleigh and the community enjoys celebrating together. Events centered around Easter, Independence Day, and Halloween bring neighbors together.

Tourists and residents alike take advantage of the Raleigh Rose Garden and Raleigh Little Theatre. There’s plenty to do between shopping nearby Cameron Village, attending events at the State Fairgrounds, and taking in concerts and sporting events at PNC Arena.

Why I love it: I used to live here! This is an affordable up-and-coming neighborhood near downtown and North Carolina State University. You’re right next to Cameron Village shopping. I love that there are lots of hills and beautiful trees. You don’t want to miss the rose garden and a show at the amphitheater.

university park home

While these are my top 5 downtown neighborhoods, there are many other Raleigh neighborhoods that may be a better fit for you. Use our advanced search or map search to find your dream home, or contact us for a consultation.

Posted in Raleigh
Feb. 18, 2020

Wake County Capped Schools Guide

If living in a “good school district” is at the top of your house hunt criteria, you’ll want to do your homework (pun intended!). The Wake County Public School System currently rates in the top 10 school districts in North Carolina for 2020. As a result, the area is more desirable than ever for home buyers.

However, moving into a neighborhood near your preferred school doesn't mean that your child will necessarily be able to attend that school. To promote less crowding and more individual attention to students, the Wake County school board approved enrollment caps on area schools.

What does a cap mean?

Schools that reach the maximum number of students that can be effectively taught stop taking new enrollments. When that happens, students are assigned to an overflow school. Transportation is provided to and from the overflow school. Students attending the overflow schools are assigned a place on the waitlist of the base (i.e. neighborhood) school and will be allowed to attend when an opening becomes available.

This article talks about the Wake County schools that are capped for the 2020-21 school year. The Wake County Public School System also offers a page with complete information, including answers to frequently asked questions on Wake County Enrollment Caps.

Panther Creek

What happens if your base school is capped?

A capped school doesn't necessarily mean your child can’t attend, even if you’re new to the area. It depends on whether there are seats available in your child’s grade level. So the first step is to start the enrollment process at the base school for your neighborhood. Keep in mind that you must be living in your home at the time of enrollment. You won’t be able to apply to a school, even to be on the waiting list, unless you’ve established residency.

If your child is on a waiting list, you’ll be contacted when a seat at your base school opens up. If a seat opens mid-year and you want your child to continue at their current school to finish out the year, you can request to be assigned to the base school at the beginning of the next school year.

What other options are there?

In addition to researching the base school in the area where you want to buy, you’ll want to learn about the overflow schools and other options for your child’s education. The Wake County Public School System has an Address Lookup tool where you type in the exact address of the home you’re considering. You’ll see whether the schools are capped. If so, click through to see the overflow schools and transportation options offered.

There are also other options:

Charter Schools - Wake County currently has 24 area Charter schools. Charter schools are government funded but operate independently of the state school system. Public charter schools are tuition free, but they also have limited enrollment. You’ll have to check the enrollment process to your preferred school. Proof of residency may be requested before you can apply.

Magnet Schools - Magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses and programs that are tailored to each student’s strengths. Magnet schools tend to be more diverse, promoting integration. You can apply to more than one magnet school and rank your preferences.

Private Schools  - There are 100 private schools in Wake County, with about one-third being faith-based schools. Private schools charge tuition and fees that vary by institution, but most offer financial aid or payment options. Parents may need to provide transportation to and from school.

What else is the Wake County School District doing to ease overcrowding?

New construction is booming in Wake County. In fact, seven Triangle towns are some of North Carolina’s fastest growing areas. Apex and Cary lead the way, since they're more centrally located, they're close to Research Triangle Park—and, of course, they boast good schools.

New schools are in various stages of completion to cope with the surge in residents. Schools may set up modular classrooms as well, but despite the new classroom space a school may still be at maximum enrollment for the year.

Coping with capping

It can be a shock to learn that, even though you buy a home well within school boundaries, your child can’t attend that school. Add to that the uncertainty as to whether they may be able to attend next quarter or next year—how do you and your child cope?

1. Be prepared. If you know you’re going to purchase a home in the Wake County Public School System, understand that the system is in flux. Buying a home doesn’t guarantee where your child will attend school, so brace yourself.

2. Do extra research. Learn all your options for choosing a school for your child. You may find that a magnet, charter or private school is a better option for your child. In fact, the overflow school may be a blessing in disguise! But do your due diligence, and don’t dismiss the alternatives out of hand.

3. Prepare your child. Your child is already coping with some major changes by moving to a new house in a new neighborhood. It will be even more difficult to understand why they can’t go to the same school as their new best friend. Make the situation as positive for your child as possible.

4. Check with your base school. Don’t rely on anecdotal stories on the internet or reports from the neighbors. Get in touch with your base school directly to understand under what conditions a child, even new to the neighborhood, can attend the local school. There may be waivers for special needs students, or perhaps your employment makes them eligible to attend the base school. Find out due dates for applying for an opening and make sure you apply within those dates.

If you're looking to move your family to (or within) Wake County, dealing with the capped school issue can be a hassle. Follow these tips and you're sure to find the perfect neighborhood—and school.

Feb. 11, 2020

How to Buy Before You Sell

Buying and selling at the same time can be a daunting undertaking, especially with the seller's market here in the Raleigh-Durham area. Luckily, there are several options to make the process as easy as possible.

Option 1

If your lender approves you to carry two mortgages at the same time, you can go ahead and buy your new home. This allows you to move all your furniture to the new home, then prep and sell the vacant old home. This is by the far the easiest, but you may have to pay 2 mortgages for a couple of months until the home sells.

Option 2

If you need to use your equity in your current home to purchase the next one, then you can use a service like Ribbon. Ribbon buys your next home for you, and then you rent it from them until your home sells. At that point you get a mortgage and complete the purchase. The fee for this is typically ~2% of the new home purchase price, and sometimes you can get the seller to pay the fee since you will be providing an all cash offer through Ribbon.

Option 3

Get your current home under contract (ideally with a rent-back period), and then place a contingent offer on another home. This way is the hardest, since a lot of sellers in the Raleigh-Durham area don't want to accept a contingent offer. However, if the home you want to purchase has been sitting on the market for a bit then sometimes this can work. 

Let us help!

If you have any questions about this process, please don't hesitate to contact us and we'll be happy to help! Also, if you are buying or selling long distance be sure to check out our guides for this in our Guides and FAQ page.


Jan. 17, 2020

Top 5 Neighborhoods Near Downtown Durham

Best Neighborhoods in Durham, NC

Ranked as the top city for Millennials in 2017 by Growella, Durham North Carolina is a popular place to call home. The area near downtown Durham is rapidly growing, with tons of new businesses opening each year. Living near downtown means there’s never a shortage of things to do! You can watch a Broadway show at the Durham Performing Arts Center, an independent film at the Carolina Theatre, live music at Motorco, cultural events at Duke University, and a baseball game at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Downtown is also home to award-winning restaurants, art galleries, unique shops, and more. 

While we love all the neighborhoods near downtown, we’ve narrowed down the choices to the top five! Read below to learn more about each neighborhood, and follow the links to explore homes for sale in these neighborhoods. 

1. Cleveland-Holloway: Convenience to Downtown 

Cleveland-Holloway is a beautiful neighborhood developed in the late nineteenth century, located east of downtown Durham. We may be a little biased, since we’ve called Cleveland-Holloway home for a few years, but the neighborhood’s proximity to downtown combined with the beautiful, diverse homes can’t be beaten.

Cleveland-Holloway is home to many different home styles, including beautiful, ornate Victorian homes built in the late 19th century, as well as bungalows built in the 1920s, duplexes built in the mid-20th century, and new homes built in the last few years. 

Homes in Cleveland-Holloway are priced in the $200,000s to $400,000s. Homesites are relatively small, around .1 to .3 acres with a few larger lots throughout the neighborhood. 

2. Trinity Park: Beautiful & Walkable 

Trinity Park, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Durham, is home to some of the most beautiful homes in the area. The neighborhood is bordered by the Brightleaf district of downtown Durham and Duke’s East Campus. Trinity Park is unique for its walkability - unlike many neighborhoods near downtown Durham, Trinity Park has sidewalks throughout the neighborhood. Many homes are well-maintained with beautiful landscaping. Trinity Park is also next to Duke’s East Campus, which is bordered by a 1.5 mile trail. 

Trinity Park features a variety of homes, from large, traditionally styled homes to smaller bungalows. Most lots are around .2 acres. Homes are priced from the $200,000s to over $1 million.  

3. Lakewood: Up & Coming 

Located south of downtown Durham, Lakewood is an awesome area that is quickly becoming a destination in its own right. In just the last few years, new restaurants, cafes, and more have opened in Lakewood, including:

  • Cocoa Cinnamon, a delicious coffee shop with freshly made churros
  • County Fare, a bar with a great outdoor space with different food trucks every day
  • The Lakewood, Phoebe Lawless’ latest restaurant, and Baby Scratch, the bakery next door with delicious pies, pastries, and bread
  • Durham Co-op Market, the area’s only co-op market
  • Grub, a fast casual spot with an awesome rooftop patio
  • Joe Van Gogh, another great local coffee shop
  • Pine State Flowers, a flower shop that exclusively sells locally grown flowers

Lakewood features a mix of homes, with older homes built in the 1920s-30s and new homes built in the last few years. Homes in Lakewood are priced from the $200,000s to $500,000s. 

4. Old West Durham: Hip with Character

Another one of Durham’s oldest neighborhoods, Old West Durham is located west of downtown, and borders Ninth Street, a popular area between Duke’s East and West Campuses with tons of restaurants, shopping, and more. Ninth Street is home to some of the best food options in Durham, including Zenfish, Monuts, Happy + Hale, Pie Hole, and Burger Bach. Durham’s only Whole Foods is located just off Ninth Street. 

Houses in Old West Durham are mostly smaller, with most sized around 1,200 square feet, on lots around .2 acres. The neighborhood is home to a few larger homes as well. Homes are priced from the $200,000s to $600,000s. 

5. Duke Park: Retreat in the City

Duke Park, located north of downtown, is a beautiful, peaceful neighborhood developed in the 1920s. As the neighborhood continued to develop through the 1950s, Duke Park is unique for its many modernist and contemporary homes built around that time. Duke Park is home to a beautiful 17 acre park with greenway access, playgrounds, and more. While Duke Park is not as walkable to restaurants and shops as the other neighborhoods on the list, the green space and unique homes more than make up for it! 

Homes in Duke Park are priced from the $200,000s to $600,000s. The older homes built in the 1920s and 30s are generally smaller, and situated on smaller lots around .2 acres. Homes built in the mid-twentieth century are usually situated on larger lots, around .5 acres, and many have basements. 

What's your favorite neighborhood near downtown Durham? Comment below to let us know! If you're interested in moving to one of these awesome neighborhoods, contact us today and we would be happy to work with you as your realtor. Also, if you are just browsing you can use our advanced search or our map search to help you find your next home.

Jan. 17, 2020

Questions to Ask HOAs in the Raleigh-Durham Area

Questions to Ask HOAs in the Raleigh-Durham Area

Below is a list of important questions all home buyers should ask when buying in an HOA community.

HOA Question #1: What are the fees?

HOAs usually have some sort of dues paid either monthly or yearly, and these can vary drastically from community to community. This expense has to fit into your budget. 

Generally, these dues cover the costs of maintaining common areas of the community, such as landscaping the entrance and caring for greenways. If your neighborhood has a pool or clubhouse, your fees will usually cover maintenance costs for those as well.

Be sure to ask exactly what your dues cover and specifically what is not covered. Ask who handles the bookkeeping and manages the money. In addition to the monthly base fee, find out how the HOA covers unexpected expenses, like major repairs to the pool or clubhouse.

HOA Question #2: What are the HOA restrictions?

Parking regulations are common, such as no parked cars on the street overnight and limits on how long an RV can stay in a driveway.

Some HOAs restrict not only the kinds of animals allowed (no chickens, for example), but may limit the number and size of animals (like one dog or one cat, 25 lbs. or less) and restrict the permitted breeds.

If you love to celebrate Christmas à la Clark Griswold, check for the HOA rules about holiday decorations. Some associations don’t allow elaborate lighting and may limit when you can put decorations up and when they have to come down.

HOA Question #3: Are there style guidelines for homes and property?

Are you required to submit any changes to the house or landscaping to a review board? If you’re building a new home, do your blueprints need to be approved before you even break ground? Also check if there are rules as to materials used for decking and driveways, exterior paint colors, or even window size.

If going green is an essential part of your lifestyle, be sure to inquire if you’re allowed to compost, add solar panels, harvest rainwater, landscape with drought-resistant plants, or hang clothes outside to dry. Some associations don’t permit these kinds of things, even if they have a positive impact to the environment.

HOA Question #4: Who manages the HOA?

Some communities hire professional management, so a larger part of your monthly dues goes to administrative costs. Others rely on a volunteer board elected by the members of the HOA. This may be problematic if the most enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer doesn’t have the skills or experience to fill the role effectively. Learn how often the board meets and how decisions are made that affect the whole neighborhood. How much of a voice do you have as a member?

HOA Question #5: How are disputes handled?

Naturally, you don’t expect to have problems with your neighbors—but it does happen. Ideally, you’ll be able to work out minor nuisances directly, but if you can’t, what recourse to do you have?

Try to figure out if there are any potential problems by visiting the community on different days and at different times of day. Are there any obvious issues with noise or lighting? For example, does the neighborhood light nearby shine directly into the master bedroom of the house you’re considering? Does the neighbor across the street fire up his muscle car early Sunday mornings? If those things annoy you, you’ll want to know in advance what you’re facing—and how to deal with it through the HOA.

HOA Question #6: What kinds of neighborhood events does the HOA sponsor?

Some communities love to get together. Whether celebrating national holidays or monthly birthdays, they make it an event for everyone in the neighborhood. While attendance is optional, you may feel like a “party pooper” if you never join in. On the other hand, it shows that your neighbors are a close-knit group that enjoys each other’s company.

HOA Question #7: What participation requirements does the HOA have of members?

Some associations have certain expectations of members. For instance, each homeowner may be asked to volunteer a couple hours a month in the community garden. You’ll want to be informed in advance if your HOA assumes you'll take an active part in community projects like these.

HOA Question #8: Are home-based businesses permitted?

Many people work from home. But some HOAs strictly forbid businesses operated in the neighborhood. If your association has a blanket ban on commercial activities, then it’s possible that even a home office is not permitted. You may think you can keep your activity hidden, since clients and customers don’t come to your home, but it might not be worth the risk of getting caught violating the regulations. 

HOA Question #9: Are rentals allowed?

If you're buying a home in a popular destination, you may be thinking about listing it as a vacation rental for extra income. Check not only the city and county regulations, but your HOA rules as well. Even if your city permits short-term rentals, your HOA may not.

HOAs generally try to regulate the sorts of things that affect property value. Ideally, the goal is to create a cohesive, well-kept community. Some associations may seem hyper-restrictive and others may not seem to have any power at all—so do your due diligence to understand the rules and expectations of your preferred community before falling in love with a home there.

Homes for Sale in the Triangle

If you are interested in browsing homes for sale in the Triangle in HOA communities or without an HOA, follow the links below! Please contact us using the link at the top right of this page if you have more specific questions. 

Homes for sale in HOA communities:

Homes for sale with no HOA:

Jan. 16, 2020

Does Opendoor Give Good Offers?

Recently, iBuyers like Opendoor have come into the Raleigh/Durham housing market. They offer easy cash closings with flexible closing dates for property owners. However, how much do owners leave on the table by taking the easy option?

There's a recent example of a homeowner in our market who sold with Opendoor. They sold to Opendoor for a little over $300,000, and Opendoor took a 6.5% service fee at closing as well. Opendoor then re-listed the home, and sold it for about $9,000 more about a month later. Between the large service fee and lower Opendoor offer, this homeowner left roughly $10,000 on the table compared with using a traditional real estate agent. 

On the buying side, Opendoor allows buyers to tour their listings at anytime, which is convenient for home buyers. However, Opendoor has started selling some homes in our market with as-is conditions. This is not in the best interest of the public, who will be out inspection money and possibly deposits if they get poor inspection results back.

Jan. 6, 2020

Buying or Selling Long Distance?

Check out our two most recent guides we've put together. These will help you if you are coming from out of state to buy in the Triangle, or have to sell while away. The links are below and also in our Guides and FAQ section.

Out-of-State Buyer's Guide

Out-of-State Seller's Guide

Jan. 1, 2020

Triangle Real Estate Market Update January 2020

We had some great January numbers for the Raleigh-Durham real estate market this month! Warm weather and good interest rates helped with showings and sales.

Raleigh Durham Real Estate Market Info January 2020

Dec. 31, 2019

Triangle Real Estate Market Update December 2019