Five Triangle-Area Trends and Changes: The Real Estate Crystal Ball

Posted December 2, 2017

Five Triangle Trends: The Real Estate Crystal Ball


I have taken a career leap. 

After an entire adult life spent selling, marketing, and communicating for international corporate giants and entrepreneurial startups, I am venturing into a world where I can uses my skills to cultivate my secret passion: REAL ESTATE.  Right now, I would love to do it all: residential, commercial, development, investment.  I am legal and licensed, and have partnered with my dear friend and college roommate, Nancy Szabados, at Willowdale Realty and Property Management here in North Carolina.  She is trusting me to head up the company’s Sales Division.  Gulp. 

As no one was spared from the recession nor the hideous real estate crash and burn following a meteoric rise in real property values only seven short years ago, I thought it prudent to attend the recent Triangle Business Journal annual jam-packed Tomorrow’s Real Estate event to kick off my new journey. 

The North Carolina Triangle-region real estate elite in their fine suits and tailored dresses crammed the room to listen intently to our panelist visionaries: Andy Andrews, CEO and President of Dominion Realty Partners; Jeffrey A. Benson, President and COO of The Dilweg Companies; David J. Hartzell, Bell/Wood Professor of Real Estate and Finance at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School; Mike Munn, PE, President and CEO of McAdams; Steven R. Peedin, President of Rufty-Peedin Commercial Design Build/Rufty Custom Homes; and Anne Stoddard, Director of Development of Grubb Ventures.

Everyone in the sold-out room wanted the visionary answers to whether we as a region can rise again after the recession and the hideous real estate crash and burn following a meteoric rise in property “values” as recently as 2008, a mere seven years ago.  The litter of that crash is still fresh, despite the seeming real-estate bubble that is again swelling.  Our experts agree that the Triangle is on fire from a real estate perspective. 


But this is not our daddy’s real estate market.


We are in a state of the unknown.  What does the Crystal Ball say? We could be at the 2004 stage of the previous bubble; or we might be in 2006 – so close to another crash.  Time will certainly tell, but there are several interesting changes that intrigue and beguile us such that we in the real estate industry must tread ever-so-lightly:



After the crash, people have become nervous to commit.  And committing to a huge house and mortgage that could plummet in value overnight is not happening in the way that the pre-2008 competition of outdoing and outbuilding your neighbor occurred. 

Builders themselves are challenged because regulatory costs – and not labor and materials – are preventing them from building homes for under $200K-$250K, which is the current sweet spot of comfort so many existing and potential home buyers.



Andy Andrews told us that he took a group of millennials out for pizza and beer so he could learn more about what makes them tick.  It seems that hordes of college graduates with zero jobs are flocking to the Triangle area.  They (and their parents who still pay their bills) do research on the Internet and discover that the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-Cary-Apex-Holly Springs area is a great place to live.  So they move here, find several roommates to keep costs down, and then hope they land jobs that will keep them here and happy.

Insane.  But true.


3. DEBT IS VERY ATTRACTIVE RIGHT NOW.  It is expected that over the next 9-12 months, borrowing rates will stay at historical low levels that will help big developers such as Pulte hedging $42 million in home land and lots expenditure, as a good bet.



We are seeing a boom in more density; more mixed-use zoning and remapping of our area.  People can’t get into homes.  Or they lost homes in the crash.  Or they have no interest in buying.  We have a significant increase in renters by choice. 

The downtown Raleigh area started 2015 with 2,300 condo, townhouse, and apartment units.  Today, in September of the same year, there are an additional 2,400 units under development and in plan. Lots of rental space. 



Forbes named Raleigh the #2 Best Place for Business and Careers.  Money declared Apex as the #1 Best Place to Live in the country.  We have been called out by Time, Bloomberg Businessweek, Kiplinger, CBS News, etc.  You get the picture.

We know this is a great place to be.  We are in a major academic, medical, biotech, high-tech, pharmaceutical hub of our nation.  We have four lovely seasons, a reasonably priced cost of living, jobs, cultural events.  We all live here for the gorgeousness that is North Carolina.


So it is no surprise to me that at the beginning of my real estate career journey, I have already received many phone calls to discuss listing, buying, selling and investing both residential and commercial properties RIGHT NOW just from my sphere of friends and family alone. 

May we all walk softly lest we drop the fragile Crystal Ball of North Carolina Real Estate. It will be very interesting to see what is to come!

-- Kelly Garnett, Broker, REALTOR